King Quenson Industry Group is the Gold Sponsor of AgroPages's 2019 Latin America Focus magazine.
Usted puede encontrar la versión en español de este artículo aquí. 'King Quenson: Cómo centrarse en una estrategia de «nicho» y ofrecer valor de marca a través de asociaciones'
Established in 2003, it has grown from a company engaging in simple trading into one of the largest Chinese exporters of pesticide formulations in small packages. Meanwhile, focusing on a “niche” development strategy, it thrives in some “less coveted” markets, such as the Middle East, Central America, and South America.
For many years, it has been committed to promoting end-used products and building its proprietary brand. It is highly recognized by its partners and end users. Currently, above 90% of the products available from this company are proprietarily branded. In addition to traditional pesticides, the Company’s offerings include new fertilizers, such as water-soluble and leaf fertilizers. Furthermore, it will integrate soil treatment, agricultural machinery, new fertilizers, plant growth regulators, and other products to deliver new solutions.
Over the past decades, it has been pursuing a development model of win-win cooperation with local operators. It has shifted from “understanding and meeting customers’ demands” to “satisfying and improving customers’ demands” and has helped local operators secure more market value through “forward-thinking” product registration. Speaking of its development direction, the head noted that the company will stay true to its commitment of “delivering value to customers through win-win cooperation,” hold the bottom line, and adhere to the idea of “less is more”.
The protagonist of our story today is King Quenson Industry Group based in Shenzhen (hereinafter referred to as King Quenson). How has the Company managed to shift from a traditional trader into a strong market player during the past sixteen years since its establishment? What experience has King Quenson amassed while developing the end market? What about its development strategy for the future? To find answers to these questions, AgroPages took an exclusive interview with Helen He, president of King Quenson.
Helen He, president of King Quenson
Being a pioneer and gaining a strong foothold in many distinctive markets
At first, King Quenson targeted the Middle East, where multinationals didn't have significant advantages. Local players in the Middle East are mostly formulation companies and purchasing predominates the end market. A few small markets have sub-package and processing capabilities. However, less stable politics in the region deter many enterprises.
King Quenson selected Lebanon as its first destination to enter the Middle East market. According to Ms. He, prior to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Lebanon was a relatively stable country in the Middle East. In addition, its proximity to the Gulf provides easy access to Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and other markets. Therefore, King Quenson chose Lebanon as a beachhead in this region. Nonetheless, in 2007, Lebanon cancelled all pesticide registrations belonging to Chinese companies for some historical reasons, and started to introduce a new policy in 2008. By then, the first group of Chinese enterprises aspiring to penetrate the Lebanese market had failed. In 2009, King Quenson decided to re-enter the Lebanese market. However, at that time, both the Agriculture Department and the registration head of the country believed that China was in no position to manufacture leading agrochemical products, claiming that all manufacturers and traders from China were counterfeiters. In view of this, King Quenson tried many times and eventually invited Dr. Salem Hayar, Head of the Pesticide Registration and Laboratory of the Agriculture Department of Lebanon, to China to visit the ICAMA Laboratory, Nutrichem Laboratory, and to tour a number of manufacturing enterprises. When he witnessed advanced experimental facilities and sophisticated management processes in labs, as well as industryleading manufacturing techniques in plants, the doctor recognized that China’s pesticide producers have possessed world-leading capabilities. After this visit, the Lebanese removed their prejudice against Chinese-made pesticides. Later, Lebanon officially enacted policies mandating that pesticide products must obtain lab reports issued by Nutrichem before being exported to the country. Though policies in Lebanon have undergone repeated modifications since then, King Quenson remains proactive in addressing this issue leveraging its partnerships with local institutions and labs in China, and has secured over 90 registrations, thus successfully cracking the Middle East market.
It was that insightful choice and perseverance that made King Quenson what it is today. King Quenson’s local Middle East team, 100% staffed by Arabs, has been in place for more than 10 years. It has become increasingly competitive and is playing a leading role as a driver, winning widespread recognition across many countries in the region.
Such “pioneering” stories are not rare. In 2009, invited by the Ghanaian government, King Quenson held a launch of its “Made in China” agrochemical products, as well as a training program on plant protection technology in the country. During these events, King Quenson laid out the product standard of “Made in China” and introduced application technologies for various plant protection products to local farmers. Additionally, King Quenson went into the field, demonstrating planting and pesticide application technologies to local farmers.
During this period, by aligning with globally professional plant protection standards, in terms of application, King Quenson significantly increased its strengths and cultivated a number of technicians familiar with international rules. In addition to the Middle East and Africa, King Quenson has set up branches in Central Asia, South America, North America, Southeast Asia, and other regions.
The established US marketing center covers the North and South American market. In 2004, King Quenson began to develop the South American market and gradually focused on dominant markets, trying to make its products and technology available to the local markets by partnering with local operators. Ms. He said that, given increased trust from its partners and their highly similar values with King Quenson, the Company will set up a processing plant in North America and distribution warehouse to shorten intermediate links, providing its partners with more competitive products.
Pursuing win-win cooperation to lead the market and deliver value to customers
As a branded plant protection application company sitting in the frontend market, core competitiveness— most fundamentally product quality— is essential to all its operations. King Quenson has put a good deal of efforts into manufacturing upstream products and depending on product manufacturing and application demands. It chooses to purchase raw materials from the United States, Germany, Japan, India, and even from Denmark and Poland, to plan and reserve important technical material products in advance, Ms. He told AgroPages. In addition, King Quenson has established in-depth partnerships with several domestic preparations firms. Its early deployment across upstream and downstream industrial chains allows it to ensure product quality and supply stability.
For many years, King Quenson has remained committed to the principle of stringent control over product quality. According to its longstanding partners, King Quenson well exceeds its peers in terms of product cost; it only picks out the finest of auxiliaries, solvents, and even packaging; and its product anti-counterfeiting is “armed to the teeth.” Among testing organizations in partnership with King Quenson are major names, including SGS, Shenyang Research Institute of Chemical Industry, Shanghai Research Institute of Chemical Industry, Nutrichem, as well as a number of preeminent foreign laboratories. Moreover, King Quenson communicates in sync with customers online regarding the entire process spanning from the purchase of materials to the making of preparations and to packaging. This detailed and helpful process has significantly increased the customers’ trust on the Company.
Now, King Quenson enjoys 1,000+ registrations of 100-plus countries across the globe. These registrations, to a certain degree, allow the Company to remain a going concern in the market. Ms. He noted that, during its early days, the Company underwent registration procedures in order to enter the market. Nowadays, however, King Quenson is “subtracting”, in another word, it ceases flying around the world, attracted by market illusion—for instance, glyphosate is in heavy demand in a certain region, then it markets glyphosate there. Actually, behind this phenomenon is that some enterprises are oriented around market demand and value-based transactions. By contrast, King Quenson takes the plant protection application in the local market as its ultimate goal, trying to lead the market by dominating it through ground promotions. For instance, depending upon market demand in different regions, King Quenson offers four to five different formulas in one region and conducts field testing there with local partners, and then it seeks out the formula to register that best suits local climate conditions. Such adequate preparations make it more likely for King Quenson’s products to successfully enter the market. Later, according to the local plant protection demand and even commercial design of the customers, King Quenson will come up with supporting recommendations and schemes before constantly optimizing them. That is to say, King Quenson is pivoting away from “understanding and meeting customers’ demands,” and is moving towards “satisfying and improving customers’ demands.” Such forward-thinking product registration can effectively help local operators secure more market value.
“During this process, I would like to give my thanks to all our partners and end users who respect King Quenson. They help King Quenson create value. They are also providing support for King Quenson, so that it can constantly challenge its limits to gain ongoing competitive edges. Saying more will deliver no value. We are grateful to our partners and cherish our partnerships. We will work harder for a brighter future for us all.
- Helen He, president of King Quenson
Currently, in addition to traditional pesticides, King Quenson’s product portfolio includes new fertilizers, such as water-soluble and leaf fertilizers. Furthermore, King Quenson will integrate soil treatment, agricultural machinery, new fertilizers, plant growth regulators, and other products to deliver new solutions on an ongoing basis. In developing overseas markets, King Quenson’s strategy is partnering with local operators, providing them with technology and registration services, helping customers select products, and strictly controlling product quality. “It is worth stressing that we always keep our loyalty and commitment to our customers. We help them connect with new demands and actively address problems. We believe that our interests and the interests of our customers are deeply bound together. We need to help our customers secure their deserved value and even help them deliver brand premium,” noted Ms. He.
In this partnership, what is important for King Quenson is to stay true to its heart and hold the bottom line.
Aiming to become a niche company with the greatest brand visibility
For a long time, Chinese pesticide markers primarily engaged in the export of technical and large-packaged formulations, or rather, customized products. King Quenson, however, has blazed a unique path—one that features a certain capacity to accommodate market demand, while matching its own traits. At present, above 90% of King Quenson’s products are proprietarily branded. In addition, King Quenson has been well received by many customers and end users. Ms. He said that many clients are deeply impressed by King Quenson's corporate brand and product brand and, often, clients directly request quotations with King Quenson's product packages in hand, requiring that not a single word be changed. King Quenson once tried building a few brands in partnership with local operators, such as some brands proprietary to them. These operators even asked that King Quenson's product attributes be attached to their proprietary brands, because the King Quenson brand is more familiar to local farmers. Although sometimes the local farmers cannot tell the exact or complete brand name, they say that they want access to the King brand. As these stories have demonstrated, the King Quenson brand is genuinely well regarded by the market. “Among our major partners, some have been in cooperation with us for as long as 16 years, and many for more than 10 years. We also have a great number of cyclic and annual cooperative enterprises. Once they build partnerships with us, we will become a standard for them,” said Ms. He.
King Quenson has never offered the lowest market price. As it grows larger, King Quenson has been committed to a longstanding market-driven supply model. In addition to empathizing with customers, fully understanding, satisfying, and improving their demand, in recent years King Quenson has also used a wide array of Internet technologies to help its brand take root in the local markets. For instance, it uses blockchain technology for anti-counterfeiting and tracing, disseminating the application value and attributes of products, and for establishing a comprehensive credit service system. The use of blockchain technology makes sense because by doing so, it not only helps farmers better understand the products they buy and use, but also enhances the cooperation between end users and local operators, thus providing better support for local operators.
Were there tough times for King Quenson? Of course. Take the previously-mentioned re-entry into the Lebanese market, as an example. At that time, Chinese enterprises faced great difficulties and complexities in reapplying for registration in Lebanon. Fortunately, local operators and relevant persons-in-charge of government and testing organizations, with whom it was familiar, discussed the development of relevant standards directly with Xin Benyan, the person-in-charge of the King Quenson Registration Department. But local operators, worried about uncertain policy changes, did not reveal it was King Quenson from China that was helping them. After learning about this, Ms. He told local operators if they want future access to technical support from King Quenson, they must announce that they were assisted by “King Quenson—an enterprise from China.” “Such examples are not rare. We have also experienced such events in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and other regions. However, it is exactly by grappling with these challenges that King Quenson has constantly improved its perception and response capacity. If I can use a metaphor, I would compare King Quenson to a vulture—walking on the less traveled road and penetrating the inaccessible market. This is a constantly evolving world and we have been growing bigger and stronger in this changing environment, so we embrace changes. When difficulties come, we work actively to address them. That’s it,” said Ms. He.
“Companies such as King Quenson enjoy significant brand attributes. As for King Quenson, in our marketing activities all of our commercial behaviors surround our core value of ‘win-win cooperation, delivering value to customers, embracing innovation, and commitment to excellence.’ As such, during the entire process we don't feel we are ‘taking a lot of pains,’ though sometimes we have to do the job of cultivating and educating the market. Our team is convinced that we should continue nurturing the market, instead of asking for a return before it reaches maturity. Therefore, we don't only pay attention to superficial data when it comes to making a deal, and we are confident that, conditions permitting, we will have better market opportunities by virtue of our product attributes with core competitiveness,” noted Ms. He.
This story was initially published in AgroPages '2019 Latin America Focus' magazine. Download the PDF version of the magazine to read more stories.