First published in New Zealand Herald 4 March 2015
With one store in Australia right now (in the rather cool inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills) a second store is imminent. Whether that will again be Sydney or a foray into Melbourne-proper, is yet to be decided.
Either way, Citta is focused on Australia for its next phase of growth.
Marketing & Retail Manager, Katrina Glenday, tells me that New Zealand has basically reached saturation for Citta and despite the competition in Australia, the business is very excited about the potential.
“We’re pretty unique in New Zealand,” says Glenday, “We fit somewhere in between a mass market and boutique design brand. We do compete against the likes of Freedom Furniture and of course many other retailers in Australia, but we have six designers on our team so have designs that are unique to us.”
The challenge for Citta, as it is for many new entrants to Australia, is how to build significant market share and awareness while managing costs. Glenday says advertising is so much more expensive in Australia and hopes the New Zealand model of using PR and social media as primary marketing channels, will also work in Australia.
“One of the things that’s interesting in Australia compared to New Zealand,” she says, “is there are a lot more individual influencers in the industry. Stylists, bloggers, interior designers. We really want to partner with those key people and we think that offers a lot of exciting potential.”
Glenday says research tells them interiors have become the “new fashion”.
Though Citta has had an Australian presence for ten years, it hasn’t been easy and one of the biggest challenges has been logistics.
“The thing that we’ve become more wary of is the cost of moving product,” she says. “It’s all very well selling, and we sell a lot online to Australia, but don’t underestimate the cost of moving bulky products. You have to account for Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) and just the cost and logistics of getting things from New Zealand into Australia.”
Citta has so far avoided selling through the big Australian retailers, choosing instead to have fewer and better stores stock their brand. Now, with a greater focus on Australia, Glenday says they will market around the ‘designed in New Zealand’ angle for the first time.
“With our marketing in Australia,” she says “we are using the line ‘designed in New Zealand for you and your home’. We’ve never done that in New Zealand, because we have seasonal collections -summer and winter- that are inspired by a different country or city. So our brand has quite an international feel. Our company has an Italian name, is New Zealand-owned and operated, inspired by different countries and made in different countries. We just felt the ‘we’re a New Zealand brand’ thing was not so relevant here. I did research and thought it was a good selling point for us in Australia. But ask me in another year and see how that goes,” she laughs.