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Old February 7, 2002, 10:35 PM
elizabeth aqui-seto
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Default any lessons on market penetration

Hi, I have a concern that perhaps someone could shed some light on. And I trust it's acceptable to post this kind of question here. If not, I know I'll be told. :-)

I recently found a manufacturer/supplier of exotic butters and oils. These products are mainly used by companies in the cosmetics, soapmaking, aromatherapy industries. The company is local (Canadian). Some of their biggest clients are in the US, Europe and Asia. They capture a VERY small segment of the Canadian market.

This is where the story becomes mind boggling. I was speaking with one of the partners, who has an engineering background. She was telling me that many Canadians actually buy her product from those same suppliers in the US that she sells to. My background is in business systems analysis for the life insurance industry so I know nothing about the retail and manufacturing sector. But I'm sure that I'll be learning a lot real fast.

This case is in no way an isolated one. I also recently met a colleague who imports essential oils from Egypt and pretty well told me a simiilar story. Her biggest client base is in the US. She has the hardest time cracking the Cdn. market.

So, I'm wondering, are we Canadians simply not a very patriotic lot when it comes to supporting our own industries. Why would a Canadian company buy the same product from a US one, then turn around and sell retail in Canada, when there are so many factors (in this instance) working against them - our dismal Cdn$ vs. the US$, to say nothing of the cost of shipping, and delays at customs to name a few.

So, my challenge is to try to capture part of this Canadian market. I don't know if I am up to the challenge. I think it might be easier to find suppliers in South America and the Caribbean!!

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.



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