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China dreams: Buggy business phil&teds finds Asian success with innovative design

China. More than 1.3 billion people. Trillions of dollars of potential revenue. And a market that any business looking to scale up should be tripping over itself to break into.

That’s exactly what juvenile products company phil&teds' Mountain Buggy has been doing – and its efforts are paying off thanks to strong economic growth following the launch of its compact travel buggy into the Chinese market.

Listen to Idealog digital editor Ben Mack speak with phil&teds CEO Campbell Gower about the recent success his company has had in Europe:

The Red Dot award-winning nano buggy, which folds down small enough to fit in overhead lockers on airlines, first went out to Chinese retailers earlier this year. Mountain Buggy chief executive Campbell Gower says the results have been nothing short of impressive. “While we’ve experienced solid returns with nano in other Asian countries, the response in China has been impressive,” he says.

After only entering the Chinese market in February, the country now dominates Mountain Buggy’s sales across Asia. Gower notes that, as of October, the business has seen about a 60 percent increase in total sales across all Asian markets, year-on-year. “Since launching in 2014, there’s always been demand for nano,” he says. “Having largely created the travel buggy category it was important we entered the Chinese market right for both our brand and this buggy. All markets are both the same and different; and the differences are important. So, we focussed on establishing a real sales presence on the ground and built relationships with key partners, all before hitting go in February. These recent results show that with the right product design and retail partnerships, significant growth can occur.”

With the launch of the brand’s latest Chinese zodiac-inspired print, Gower expects total sales to continue to grow. The special edition print, part of a series called Silhouettes, celebrates the Year of the Dog – since it will be the Year of the Dog in 2018. It’s the brand’s third print in the series, with Year of the Rooster and Year of the Monkey preceding it.

In a first for the company, holographic textiles and effects were employed, creating a unique print that is accentuated when exposed to a direct light source. “The result is an interactive art piece - as you move around the buggy, you experience the changing print with light. This latest innovation has been hugely popular due to its presence”

Gower adds that he believes this new print offers customers the best of both worlds. “Buggies delivering superior form, function and design, combined with a creative, iconic style,” he says. “It’s just terrific to be doing it, still from New Zealand, over 20 years on and in 40+ countries.”

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