Ivo Favotto is your true Trinity man. He’s worked for airports (Australia’s Federal Airports Corporation and as a consultant to numerous Australian airports), retailers (The Nuance Group and Lagardère Services Travel Retail Asia Pacific) and now, in his latest incarnation, for a brand. Not a long-established travel retail brand, mind you, his own start-up brand.
It’s called Next 88 and in a quietly impressive way it’s becoming the next big thing in the related categories of destination merchandise and food.
As we reported, the debut Next 88 product –Australian-made shortbread cookies – was unveiled by dynamic independent Australian retailer awpl at Sydney Airport’s international terminal in early 2017. The cookies are housed in a collectible tin inspired by the country’s iconic road signs portraying (or warning) of the country’s fauna, such as kangaroos, koalas, emus, echidnas and crocodiles.
Next 88 is targeted fair and square at the Chinese market. The words on the shortbread tin change the familiar Australian road sign message ‘Next 10km’ to ‘Next 88km’ – a nod to the importance of the number 8 to Chinese consumers.
It’s brilliantly simple. Next 88 is flying (hopping is probably a better term) off the shelves across Australian airport stores. So much so, in fact, that the company has just introduced a follow-up product, Macadamia Nougat.
The new line is presented in a premium tin with a map of Australia mosaic design lid. The lid features over 100 familiar symbols and images of Australia (I did suggest to Ivo that he should have included the All Blacks captain lifting the Bledisloe Cup but he didn’t seem interested). Inside there are 16 individually wrapped 30g pieces of Macadamia Nougat designed for easy sharing and maximum freshness.
Ivo has cleverly fused his knowledge of what Chinese consumers are seeking (or would be attracted by) with the burgeoning retailer desire to offer enhanced destination merchandise. Smart man. Or should that be smart cookie?
Postscript: The Next 88 warnings are well justified. Click here for my Blog from October 2013, which related the extraordinary tail, sorry tale, of how a real kangaroo managed to get through Melbourne Airport security despite being told to hop it, only to be captured by then General Manager Retail, Car Parks & Wildlife Management, Dan Cappell. The kangaroo, which was warned under Australia’s infamous Prevention of Terrooism Act, was not charged as police believed it would have skipped bail anyway.
Footnote: Commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility
There’s something else admirable about Next 88. All the sourcing and packing of the products is handled by House With No Steps(HWNS), an Australian organisation that employs people with disabilities, typically Down’s Syndrome. As we reported, HWNS was featured on Australian breakfast television programme Sunrise, which dubbed it as the “happiest workplace in Australia”, focusing on ability rather than disability. [Click on the icon in the image above to view the coverage].
“When Next 88 was established in 2016, we approached HWNS to source quality, Australia-made macadamia nut short bread cookies,” Ivo says. “HWNS provides Next 88 with the cookies, sourced from macadamia nuts grown on a farm operated by HWNS in Ballina on New South Wales’ far north coast.
“The cookies are baked on a HWNS production line in Forbes – a major agricultural region in NSW’s west – and the tins are packed on a HWNS packing line in Belrose in suburban Sydney. All to Next 88’s exacting specifications, standards and quality control processes.
“Next 88 is proud to be a HWNS customer. We are humbled and inspired by our connection with such an amazing organisation. We have been truly impressed by their dedication, customer service and professional standards and even more impressed that they have been dubbed the happiest workplace in Australia.”