How Bobbie the bear became a Chinese sensation

By Peter Cai

However, when Ravens bought the run-down estate in 2007, he never envisaged his 265-acre farm would become a tourism mecca. “It was not taken on as a commercial proposition — it was a restoration project,” he told Family Business. “It was like buying an old Rolls Royce and doing a restoration job.

The Bobbie mania has also created a cottage industry both at home and abroad, churning out fake bears. “The scale of intellectual theft is absolutely astounding and you would marvel at how intense the fake industry is,” he told Family Business.

Ravens credits social media as the driver of the success of Bobbie mania. “You can advertise all you like, but nothing is as powerful as social media,” he said, “Social media has made our product famous.

Before it became famous for its bear, Bridestowe was internationally renowned for its leading technology and practice in distilling essential oil. “It became a laboratory for the rest of the world,” he said, “Every modern essential oil distillation plant is designed on the basis of the technology developed at Bridestowe estate.

It is easy to forget that, distilling and selling lavender essential oil is still the primary business of Bridestowe. “We have 280 products on range and the bear is the most notorious,” he said with a giggle,” I would much prefer people look at our new spa range.

Ravens said even Australian Customs intercepted fake tags from Asia that were intended for knock-out workshop based in South Australia. “All bears in China are fake,” he said.

It wasn’t the target market,” he said, “we changed the whole approach. ” Ravens marked in his calendar January 2011 as the first historical milestone for the bear.

We are not interested in scaling up beyond a certain sensible level to satisfy demand. ” Ravens says he is more interested in engaging customers at a higher level. “The real aim of the business is to grow its reputation,” he said.

Seventy per cent of retail customers are Chinese, according to Ravens. “The Chinese market is very sensitive to products related to health, it is a Chinese pre-occupation,” he said.

Read more here: Business Spectator


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