News Special Coverage Industry Overview Supply & Demand Price Reference Forum
 

Queensland Business Monthly: Brand Australia lacks direction

www.couriermail.com.au by Glen Norris04/12/2017  

C:\Users\Administrator\Desktop\22.jpg
Sirromet's Eric Yu with a glass of red wine in the vineyard.
The Chinese are behind a massive surge in wine exports. Picture: Peter Wallis

Are Australia’s exporters failing in Asia because of a lack of a good advertising slogan? 
When ad agency M&C Saatchi came up with their 100% Pure campaign for the New Zealand tourism industry almost two decades ago, it set the bar for how a small country could successfully brand itself in international markets.

The result has not only been a boon for the country’s tourism sector but also for the dairy and fresh produce industry, particularly in Asia where food safety is highly valued.

For many in Australia, New Zealand’s achievements with 100% Pure make our own attempts at branding look lame.

Sue Holz, whose Brisbane-based firm Research by Design helps research potential markets across Asia, says Australia lacks a succinct brand like 100% Pure.

“The Federal Government needs to place more effort and emphasis on brand Australia,” Holz says.

She says the importance of branding was brought home to her when she recently worked with Queensland-based meat processor Teys on getting its product into Chinese supermarkets.

Products need to be readily identifiable as Australian, almost to the point of “putting a kangaroo on the packet”.

Holz is not alone in her criticism of our poor branding. Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest last year called for a unified national brand to market premium Australian food and produce to China.

“You can walk miles of supermarket aisles in China and not be able to notice Australia,” Forrest told one business forum.

Holz says there is a lack of consistency when it comes to branding Australia.

“We have the street cred in terms of agricultural products, but it is a stop-start process,” she says.

“We don’t finish off ideas and we are just not good at branding or marketing in Asia.”

Holz, who spent several years living in Hong Kong in the 1990s, says one reason could be that businesses have not in the past had to export to earn a good profit.

That has changed in recent years as the economy has globalised and growth in Asia has surged. “If you want to grow your business, you have to look offshore.”

The wine industry is one Australian sector that has got the marketing message right in Asia, perhaps providing lessons for others.

Annual Australian wine exports to China have reached more than $600 million, with Australian wineries praised for building a strong national brand based on stories around family winemakers using clean and natural ingredients.

The Chinese characters for “South Australia” have become synonymous with a style of red wines. Mt Cotton-based Sirromet Wines has seen its sales to China surge in recent years as part of strong demand for quality Australian wines.

Sirromet general manager Rod Hill says Chinese sales now make up 30 per cent of the company’s revenue, double what it was five years ago.

“The Chinese really buy into the quality of the product and the fact it’s natural and grown in a clean environment,” says Hill, who travels to China at least twice a year to wine and dine mainland customers.

“Once they trust you, you get a lot of repeat customers.”

Hill says Sirromet’s winery is now visited by 8000 Chinese tourists each year where Australia’s natural beauty and wildlife is on display. Next year, the winery is planning a release a wine under a “Dingo” label to tie in with the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Holz stresses that Australian exporters need to do their research before committing to a particular product.

Holz is currently working with an indigenous company on exporting cosmetics containing Kakadu plum extract to high-end Japanese retailers.

The product ticks all the right boxes for Japanese consumers in terms of being a product associated with Australia and with reportedly high-level health benefits.