Based in Tauranga, Heilala Vanilla is a company that uses vanilla to create a wide range of extracts, pastes and sanitisers. After 18 years of business, Heilala Vanilla had record-breaking success, winning five community and commercial rewards.
Let’s look at their journey and how they rose to the top after nearly two decades.
Small beginnings in Tonga
After a tragic Cyclone ravaged Tonga in 2002, destroying an extensive amount of their agriculture and plantations, Tonga was in deep need of Aid and support.
Jennifer Boggiss and her father volunteered to give their assistance to replant Tongas crops and plants to keep them out of starvation. During their venture, Jenifer and her father realised that there was endless potential in growing vanilla plants in Tonga.
They found out that the “rich Pacific soil was an ideal medium in which to grow vanilla, and the strong Polynesian sun was an ideal way to naturally dry the pods, intensifying the flavour of the Madagascar Bourbon.”
Plants are grown and extracted in tonga and sent to Tauranga to be made into Heilala Vanilla’s vanilla-based products.
Heilala Vanilla’s competitive advantage is that Tonga is one of the only countries in the world that is capable of growing vanilla due to the climate and weather conditions.
The second advantage is that there is a labour shortage for Vanilla plantation workers worldwide as it is a lot more labour-intensive than most other spices. They were able to get around this by securing a partnership with the Utungake family village, giving them employment which the village was begging for after the cyclone left many unemployed.
Strategy and Innovations
Heilala Vanilla took a long time to reach the success that they have today. It wasn’t until 2020, 18 years after being founded in 2002, that they had a breakthrough in the market.
Heilala Vanilla’s rise in success was due to improvements in its marketing strategy using the 4 Ps of marketing and intelligent innovation. Heilala Vanilla implemented this strategy very intelligently by taking advantage of the covid 19 pandemic. When people were panicking about buying toilet paper and stocking up on PPE, Heilala identified another product that was also in huge demand and found a way to incorporate the company’s vanilla roots.
The New product that Heilala Vanilla came out with was Vanilla scented hand sanitiser. This was a genius product at the time as everyone wanted to get sanitiser to try and stay away from covid.
So they took away the negative part of hand sanitiser and turned it into a positive, pleasant-smelling vanilla product. This innovation is what made Heilala so successful in 2020.
The many lockdowns over covid 19 meant in-store purchases were impossible. But Heilala Vanilla’s online store that ships to anywhere in New Zealand kept them relevant and still in business.
Also, during the covid 19 lockdown period, there was an immense increase in social media use as people didn’t have much to do because they had to be at home all day. Heilala Vanilla also took advantage of this by investing more in social media ads to promote their New hand sanitiser product.
These strategies and innovations saw a vast increase in sales for Heilala Vanilla. They also won 5 commercial and community awards, including the 2020 Westpac Tauranga Business of the Year – Supreme Winner.
Auctus Accounting Tauranga are running a series spotlighting our fellow Tauranga businesses’ success (see part one here). We are excited to spotlight Heilala Vanilla for their excellent use of marketing principles, and innovation that drove them to success.
Innovation answers the question, how can we address a specific challenge to increase value for both our customers and our company? Being innovative is about maintaining an environment where it is normal to bring information, imagination and inspiration together to create and implement solutions and improvements on a regular basis.