Continuing our Team Spotlight Series, we’ve chatted with Michael Hall-Taylor, Next Frontier Brands’ APAC Managing Director to learn more about him and share our approach to the Asia Pacific Market.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in the Far East (Singapore and Malaysia), but went back to the UK for boarding school when I was 9. My first degree was actually geography as I love the subject, and then did an executive MBA while I was working for one of the UK’s largest CPG companies at the time. I oversaw marketing for two of the UK’s largest cigarette brands in my mid to late 20’s. Through those connections, I was asked to head up commercial and marketing for the Jordan F1 team, which I enjoyed for six years (meeting Next Frontier Brands Chief Strategy Officer and Board Member, Jason Roth in the process), before setting up my own sports marketing agency. For a bit of adventure, I emigrated from the UK to New Zealand with my family 12 years ago, set up another marketing agency and founded the Edmund Hillary clothing brand. Taking the role at Next Frontier Brands feels as I’ve gone full circle back to CPG but can also now apply a lot of the entrepreneurial lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
What are the key responsibilities of your role as APAC Managing Director?
To grow sales and revenue of all our brands across the region – a region that is highly varied in tastes and cultures and contains over half the world’s population – so we target our relevant brands at the relevant markets. And where we don’t have brands but see an opportunity, we develop brands to meet the need. Given the size of the region a key part of the job is identifying and developing partnerships with distributors and other companies to help sell our products in market.
What are the biggest opportunities in the APAC market and how are you capitalizing on them?
There are many opportunities in the region, but probably the biggest one is capitalizing on the 1.4 billion people in China, particularly their fast-growing middle classes. We have developed partnerships in the region and are creating brands and products specifically to suit that market – both in the beverage and wellness spaces. China is also New Zealand’s biggest trading nation and we are one of the few countries that has a free trade agreement in place with them. The economic benefits of this means that we are able to tap into significant NZ government trade support to help us grow this channel.
What are the biggest challenges of the APAC market and how are you addressing them?
Before Covid I probably would have said language, but now it is definitely the restrictions on travel and logistics disruptions. There is only so much that can be done remotely. A lot of business in Asia (and the buildup of trust) needs to be done face to face. This has been almost impossible over the last year, but I look forward positively for the year ahead. I think we’ve done a lot of the groundwork to capitalize on the post-Covid boom.
What do you enjoy most about living in Auckland, New Zealand?
Auckland is known as the city of sails and is surrounded by water and 50 islands. So if you love the water, as I do, the city is a playground for sailing, fishing, diving and exploring. It suits my adventurous outlook. Rugby is also a big part of the culture here, and that also happens to be my favourite sport. My social network revolves around the local rugby club (gym and of course the bar).