Norway - An Export Market In Waiting
With exports of just $12 million a year, Norway is not a priority market for most New Zealand companies, but those targeting wealthy, discerning consumers should take a closer look, says Paul Chaplin, Trade New Zealand's representative in Oslo. Chaplin is Trade New Zealand's first representative to Norway, appointed recently to help exporters realise the potential he says lies waiting in this rich Scandinavian nation.
"Norway is never going to be a huge export market for New Zealand, but there is excellent potential for producers of top quality goods across a range of sectors, including wine, food, clothing, outdoor equipment and technology."
A New Zealander who has been travelling to Norway for more than three years, Chaplin says at first glance most Kiwi exporters wouldn't give Norway a second look.
"At 4.8 million, the population is not much bigger than New Zealand's. What many New Zealanders may not realise is that Norway also has one of the world's healthiest economies with a very high balance of payments surplus, largely generated by its vast oil exports. The people of Norway enjoy a relatively high disposable income and are very consumer orientated."
Chaplin says exposure to a wide range of the best products from Europe and the rest of the world has made Norwegian shoppers very quality conscious.
"They are very discerning, with purchase decisions based on quality and image as much as price. That bodes very well for New Zealand exporters who are targeting the very top end of the market."
In addition, he says Norwegians have a positive perception of New Zealand and there is a growing awareness of the quality and range of products produced by this country.
That awareness is being driven by the increasing number of young Norwegians who travel to this part of the world, both on the equivalent of the New Zealand OE, and to complete their tertiary education in Australia and New Zealand. Chaplin says young Norwegians who attend University abroad receive the same benefits they would at home.
"When you can send your son or daughter to university in a country like New Zealand, with our exchange rate, that's a pretty attractive proposition."
Chaplin says Norwegians are becoming more cosmopolitan as a result of their travelling.
"One of the areas you can see the change is in the rapid growth in eating out. Tastes are becoming more sophisticated with people seeking, and restaurants serving, a much wider range of special luxury and international dishes than previously. "The actual cost of dining out and drinking alcohol is generally high. That works to New Zealand's favour because although quality is the thing that will sell New Zealand products, we can also compete on price."
Chaplin says the trend towards eating out has seen wine consumption increase by 35 percent in the past ten years, with that growth rate forecast to increase further. He says although the liquor industry is regulated, Norwegians can buy wines from most of the wine producing nations in the world.
"New Zealand is currently not well represented in this area and that presents a good opportunity for growth. Many Norwegians are aware that New Zealand produces top quality wines, though they probably don't appreciate the depth of the industry." Chaplin believes there is also a niche market in Norway for some of New Zealand's luxury food items. "For example, there is a very popular dish in Norway which contains what they call the blueshell mussel. It is much smaller and not as tasty as the Greenshell(tm) mussel and there might well be a demand for our bigger and tastier variety.
"As with all these products, a lot of groundwork and research needs to be done before entering the market and that's one of the areas where Trade New Zealand can assist."
Chaplin also sees potential for exports of New Zealand clothing to Norway. "The contrast between warm summers and cold winters means that Norwegians have a more extensive wardrobe than the average New Zealander. Because they are exposed to the top fashions coming out of Europe, they are also very interested in good quality clothing. The demand for high quality fashion garments, particularly those from natural fibres, may provide opportunities for some of the more exclusive lines produced in New Zealand."
Norwegians' passion for nature is something New Zealanders probably are familiar with. Chaplin says that love of the great outdoors presents good opportunities for exports of outdoor equipment and clothing and marine products. "The average Norwegian is very focussed on nature and the outdoor life. Well-known international brands are well established and readily available in Norway and new products, which meet the needs and quality/fashion expectations of Norwegians, must have potential.
"Norwegians recognise that New Zealanders also have an affinity for the outdoors. They respect what they see as our clean and green policies and ideals and that in turn is likely to encourage them to respond positively to
New Zealand products."
One other export sector that Chaplin singles out for mention is technology. Like New Zealand, he says the comparatively small Norwegian market is very quick to embrace new technologies and 'techno' products.
"On a per population base Norway rivals New Zealand as having the greatest number of mobile phones. As a result I believes products in the technology sphere may also have prospects in Norway."
Currently in New Zealand to talk with companies who are considering exporting to Norway, Chaplin says having a Trade New Zealand representative in Oslo, albeit part-time, is a major step forward and one that should greatly assist exporters explore and develop the market.
And while he doesn't expect exports to Norway grow significantly in the short term, he believes the potential is there for top quality New Zealand products to make their mark. He says success in Norway could also lead to greater opportunities in other Scandinavian countries.
To contact Paul Chaplin while he's in New Zealand, please call Trade New Zealand Christchurch, ph 03 364 5000.
For more information contact: Kate Weir, Market Services Manager, Europe Trade New Zealand, Wellington, Ph: 04 496 6485
Released by Sara Darby, Trade New Zealand, Communications Ph: 04 496 6418