Andrew Poore, General Manager of Signature Marketing NZ, tells C&I about all their latest successes and product launches.

C&I: What were the highlights for Signature Marketing NZ in 2020?

Poore: I’d probably say surviving COVID! But outside of that, one of the big things that we noticed was a channel switch from grocery to convenience. We certainly felt that we expanded our consumer, particularly with our audio products.

What we noticed was that particularly during the six-week lockdown, sales of our audio products were 50 per cent higher than what they would normally be. I think that with families all working and learning from home, our audio products were all of a sudden being consumed like Mars Bars.

At the end of 2019, we launched our Fuse Airbudz, and they have been really successful for us, and I think they have helped our credibility with the brand Fuse. We’ve also launched our Fuse True Wireless Sound in black, which is a slightly bigger and more fitted product and early indications of that are looking to be very strong. We really think we’ve got another winner there and we’ve got a lot of new product development in the works as well.

Finally, one of the biggest highlights for us was again winning the Best Head Office Service and Support for a Medium Supplier award at NZACS last year. We’ve won that award for six years running and it’s always a great honour for me to be able to stand up and accept the award on behalf of the success of our team.

C&I: What will be your primary focus in 2021?

Poore: We’ll just be looking for continuance with our growth. In our mobile phone and audio categories we’re still tracking at about 15 per cent growth of sales. We represent about 95 to 96 per cent of the category now in New Zealand.

Tech is performing very well for us, but we also launched toys as a category last year, which has been very encouraging. We only distribute through BP now as a fantastic one or two bay offer, but the category has become big enough now that the other banners are starting to take notice. We’re only working with licensed brands, so Disney, Mattel, among others, and that has been a real evolution of our business.

Previously BP had a selection of plush fluffy toys on offer, but in working with us and these bigger, more recognisable brands, we have quadrupled that category within a year, and it continues to grow.

C&I: Have you noticed any new or emerging trends through P&C?

Poore: Consumers have been loving what we call our ‘true wireless stereo (TWS)’ solutions. As well as our Fuse Airbudz and our black Fuse TWS, we’ve also now got a TWS speaker system, which is just two wireless mini speakers. And there will be another TWS solution being released at the end of this year.

C&I: What are you personally looking forward to most in 2021?

Poore: I’d love to say travel overseas. Obviously with us being one company with Pacific Optics in Australia, I’ve got another office over in Burleigh Heads in Queensland, and I would normally go there once a month for a few days, so I haven’t done that for over a year now. But what I’m really enjoying most is being able to participate in more face-to-face meetings.

C&I: What are you most looking forward to at the C&I Expo in September?

Poore: Being able to mix not just with retailers, but actually mixing with suppliers as well. Over the past year, we haven’t really had a lot of opportunity to get together and chew the fat, but sometimes by sharing knowledge with other suppliers you can actually work out different ways of approaching some of your retailers about certain things. That shared experience and knowledge is just so valuable.

C&I: What would be your key message to the petrol & convenience channel this year?

Poore: Just to keep looking for new and exciting products. BP Connect has put together a great food offer in New Zealand, which is really new and refreshing.

From my point of view, from the size of a category, the mobile phone accessory products are continually growing. It’s around a $12 million category in New Zealand now and we represent around 95 per cent of it, so I think it’s continuance of seeing that growth in what is now a mature category.

We’ve also had great success with sunglasses this summer, with upwards of 20 per cent growth. We have the catchphrase, ‘they said you couldn’t grow the sunglass category’. Because sunglasses have been available in service stations forever, but we have grown the category by about 80 per cent since we’ve brought sunglasses to the market, and that all comes down to quality and execution. We manufacture ad supply all our displays and I am very particular about how our products are displayed.

Something to look out for is our new WalknTalk fast charge range, which we’ve just brought to market. Our fast charge can take you from zero to more than 50 per cent battery life in under half an hour. That comes in cables, wall units, car and fast cigarette lighter chargers. That is going to be driving new and exciting further growth for the channel.

C&I: What’s your advice for retailers on educating the consumer on new products?

Poore: It’s important to have clear and precise point of sale. For the first time we have introduced QR codes onto our fast charge products and point of sale, so the consumer can just scan the QR code and be taken to the fast charge website to learn all about the range. We’re also in the process of creating some short 15 second videos as well, which will be the next evolution of those QR codes.

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