Overall net profits dropped by 42.8% year-on-year according to its most recent financial report, which showed that Blackmores Australia and New Zealand had achieved sales of $264m for the first three quarters of its financial year, down 26% from the previous corresponding period.
This was on the back of a record 2016 for the company, where its sales were buoyed by ‘daigou’ shoppers buying supplements from Australian stores to sell via e-commerce in China — a practice that has suffered due to uncertainty over Chinese e-commerce laws.
Nevertheless, Blackmores’ reputation appears to have remained strong in Australia, with the firm recently being named Australia’s Most Trusted Vitamin and Supplement Brand for the ninth consecutive year in the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Survey.
Referring to the China, Blackmores Australia and New Zealand MD Dave Fenlon told us: “If we’ve been affected by change or potential change in legislation, we’ve talked very openly about that. But there is also channel-switching; we are selling a lot of products now directly to China.”
He added that a commitment to open communication — especially via digital channels — with consumers in Australia had helped strengthen the brand: “Our website has hundreds of pages detailing our research, our education plans, and the benefits of our products. We educate our consumers well, and you can talk to one of our registered naturopaths (either on the phone or online)”.
He also added that the company continued to spend “an awful lot of time and money educating the sales forces” of its retail partners, includingdoctors, pharmacists, and their assistants.
Despite the slump in profits, Fenlon believes maintaining a commitment to high-quality ingredients and processes will strengthen Blackmores’ reputation: “We have a very clear policy that our ingredients are purchased from the best manufacturers around the world; that policy is supported by a huge number of internal quality checks, over and above the usual regulations.”
The downturn in sales has also not swayed Blackmores’ main strategy, which Fenlon says is “underscored by one fundamental fact: we are all about increasing the health and well-being of our consumers”.
Globally, he said it was vital that all the 17 markets in which it operated must line up with the overall brand objectives.
“The world is a very small place digitally, and it’s about making sure the core principles of the brand are the same across all the countries in which you operate.”