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Fear Factor Can Drive Exports


26 February 2004

Fear Factor Can Drive Exports

Some of New Zealand's biggest international customers are basing their purchasing decisions on sustainability, product safety and environmental values - factors that exporters would be foolish to ignore.

Fear of activist campaigns, and the damage they inflict on brands, can sway the awarding of multi-million dollar purchasing contracts, according to research to be presented at the EMA's Go Global export summit next week.

Jo Hume from the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development will present findings from her Winston Churchill Fellowship Report at Go Global, on the factors that drive purchasing decisions of international customers and whether they care about the sustainable business practices, in making those decisions.

The research canvasses the perceptions and policies of more than 40 major companies and organisations in the UK, Europe and US, including Marks & Spencers, Sainsburys, Unilever, Nestle, Starbucks and Tesco, and provides some valuable insights for Kiwi exporters.

Ms Hume says New Zealand's major markets are increasingly interested in the social and environmental integrity of our products, although the demand for sustainable, quality products is not necessarily being driven by consumers.

"Interestingly, it is not the end consumers who are driving this demand, but the retailers and brand owners. These global companies are working to build "trust us" into their brands and they're taking pro-active steps to avoid the enormous damage that can be caused by activist-led campaigns, boycotts and exposes.

"Activists and non-government organisations have significant power in many of our key markets and New Zealand exporters have to sit up and take notice of their stance on environmental issues."

Ms Hume highlights the importance of the international perception of New Zealand as a clean, green and innovative nation. However, she says it is critical that this perception is

backed-up with sustainable practices in areas such as horticulture, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and that these practices are communicated to international retailers and brand owners.

Ms Humes' presentation at the one-day summit is part of a wider programme which will give attendees the chance to learn the secrets to international success from some of New Zealand's leading trade experts.

EMA Northern chief executive, Alasdair Thompson, says "the EMA is behind Go Global because we believe that exporting is critical to New Zealand's growth. There are valuable lessons to be learned from the successes and failures of many of our leading exporters - lessons that can help New Zealand businesses, and the New Zealand economy, grow through international trade."

Visit to view the full list of speakers and their topics, or to register to attend.


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