Market: North America

The customer

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is one of the oldest farming co-operatives in New Zealand providing a range of services and solutions to improve the prosperity and productivity of their farmers. LIC Automation (LICA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of LIC, focused on automation and sensing technology in New Zealand and around the world. 

The challenge

Having had introduced its ‘Saber’ brand in UK and Europe, and North America being the largest milk producer in the world, LICA wanted to better understand the eco-system of US pasture based farmers before investing in the market. 


LICA's Jon Lee conducting in-market research with farmers in Wisconsin.

Our approach

Better by Design’s ‘Customer Insights to Action’ service offers companies a deep understanding of their target audience in international markets, and coaches them on how to  turn those insights into an action plan. It aims to help companies understand the motivations, behaviours and unmet needs of their customers beyond those that they can articulate. This enables New Zealand companies to position themselves in international markets in a distinctive and innovative way.

The journey started in New Zealand with a strategic design thinking coach who worked with the team to understand the context, current truths and assumptions to be tested. The coach connected with a Design Researcher and NZTE’s Business Development Manager (BDM) in-market, and together they planned and prepared for one week of immersive interviews with dealers and farmers in Wisconsin.

LICA’s Head of International Market Establishment, Jon Lee shadowed and conducted interviews for the week with the Design Researcher, learning and practicing design research.

“NZTE’s team were super-engaged with what was going on on-the-ground, and the way that they could connect us was vastly superior to what we had experienced.”
— Jon Lee,  Head of International Market Establishment, LICA


LIC's intelligent drafting system Protrack Vantage

The result

LICA found the service and time spent invaluable. Their initial market research led them to believe animal drafting gates and heat detection were the products that farmers needed in Wisconsin.  Actual customer insights, gained from face-to-face interviews revealed the risk of contaminated milk from mastitis was one of the biggest challenges. As a result of the insights, LICA were able to pause and pivot their strategy, saving them considerable time, money and mitigating reputational risk in-market.

Jon is now working with the team to explore launching their automated in-line sensor CellSense® into market. Utilising their relationship with NZTE and its network, he recently joined up with their Santiago Business Development Manager, Rhianon Berry, and they have continued to apply the design-thinking approach in South America. As the team continue to approach new markets and grow in others, it is evident across the business that the value of putting the customer at the centre of everything they do is deeply embedded in LIC’s culture and day-to-day approach. 

“If we hadn’t invested the resource and time in the initial piece of work to understand our customers and the market, we would have made expensive mistakes.”
— Wayne McNee, CEO, LIC