Anything is Pawsible for WashBar
Who couldn’t love a company with dogs this cute?
It’s not just a front cover – the goal of WashBar is to take the connection between an owner and a dog, and celebrate it with a consistent, trusted product.
With smaller families and busy lives, pet ownership is on the rise. More importantly, the way people see their pets is changing. Increasingly, pets are another member of the family – just like a child or a grandparent – and they want the best products for them, not just what’s cheapest.
Customers are willing to pay a premium for higher quality, natural, and ethical pet products, just as they would for any other member of the family. That opens the door for new players in the market and fits well into New Zealand’s global brand.
When Louise and Andy Knight purchased WashBar in 2018, the company was servicing a wide variety of export markets. WashBar was exporting to 11 markets, where it needed to build trust and establish itself as a brand. Petcare products are often highly recommended between friends, so the company benefitted from the scale of more focussed markets.
The export business is built around the hero product – the best-selling bar soap for dogs. The soap is natural, economical, soothing, and easy to use when washing the family dog. Initially made for a family friend, who was disappointed at the lack of pet care products that were natural and New Zealand made, the soap is perfect for customers who are wanting to treat their dog like they treat themselves.
“One of the questions I get asked the most is if the soap can be used for humans too,” Louise told us. “Of course it can! We use it everyday.”
With a goal to reduce the number of export markets, WashBar narrowed in on the United States as an appealing target. The reputation of manuka, a key ingredient in the WashBar products, is growing in the USA, which helps win trust in a market dominated by “Buy American.” NZ’s clean and ethical image, coupled with WashBar’s own natural philosophy, helps set our products apart from other imports on US shelves. Customers like to take a second look at New Zealand products, and see them as close to their own.
With a renewed focus, and scalable product, the company was able to scale up quickly to meet demand – particularly in the United States. The supply chain is flexible, both the raw materials and manufacturing can easily adapt to meet increased volumes. As new deals emerge – with WashBar’s products already reaching the virtual shelves of Chewy and Amazon – the United States is hardly the limit.
In a distributor business model, relationships are key – and pets are a great networking open. People love their dogs and want to talk about them – that opens doors that other industries just don’t have. It’s easy to tell the story digitally as well, pictures of happy dogs catch the eye, and New Zealand’s landscape reinforces the company’s image.
What shows through most of all in the company’s success, however, is the passion that goes into it, for the dogs, for the quality of the products, and for the business itself – matching the dedication and care that we feel for our own pets. Meeting Badger – the family dog and official WashBar spokesperson – one look at his fluffy fur coat proves this company is ready to take what it believes to the world stage.
WashBar are finalists for the ExportNZ ASB Wellington Export Awards, in the Best Emerging Business Category. The category has a number of successful past winners, including Storypark, Method Recycling, and Betacraft, and rewards a business that has taken big strides forward on its export journey. The awards ceremony will be held on November 18th.
This story has been provided in partnership with the major sponsor of the awards – ASB. Like us, ASB are passionate about our exporters, and helping them succeed on the world stage. ASB provides expert advice alongside the right financial tools and online solutions to make exporting easier. Find out how by clicking here.