Maurice Henry Zeigler started his fresh pressed apple cider business in 1932. Three generations later, Zeigler’s cider is available in 32 states during all four seasons. Since apple cider is traditionally a seasonal holiday product, CEO, Art Balzereit developed several other product lines to sustain operations year round. The types of products developed by the company include iced tea, lemonade, and juice. Domestically, Zeigler’s was doing very well – as the only well known brand of apple cider – but the company wanted to introduce their product to the foreign market and needed assistance doing so.
Zeigler’s was referred by an export broker to the Temple University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), so that the company could receive assistance with its plans for expansion overseas. As part of the initial evaluation for exporting the Temple SBDC consultant conducted market research on juice industries and major competitors in targeted countries such as China, Japan, Korea and Canada.
The SBDC consultant utilized PIERS – a global import and export information service – to identify current competitors and major buyers in the Asian market. The research showed that the fastest growing potential market was China. Based on this information, the consultant collected information on consumer psychographics in China. The findings were reviewed with the client including the suggestion that a new product line be developed specifically for the Asian market. This would require altering the product so that it would have a longer shelf life.
With the help of a friend, the company developed a brand new product: Sparkling Apple Cider with a two year shelf life. The SBDC assisted the client to find quality distributors overseas because they had no prior knowledge of exporting. The consultant provided valuable information on the exporting process and also recommended an export management company.
Since the consultant had a comprehensive understanding of the country’s culture and product market, she was able to provide the client with language assistance during the distributor communication process. Making use of direct connections, they were able to find a quality distributor in China. Zeigler successfully shipped its first international container of products to China recently.