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Oz companies wonder, where the bloody hell are you

Australian companies wonder, "Where the bloody hell are you New Zealand?"

27 February 2008: This is what Australian companies are thinking about their New Zealand counterparts, according to results of a qualitative NZTE brand-research exercise conducted in Australia by Nielsen.

The Nielsen study in Australia formed part of an international research programme where perceptions of New Zealand by international business in key expert markets were examined.

Sydney Trade Commissioner Tim Green says this is great news – and a different message than we are used to hearing.

“We often hear from New Zealand companies how hard it is to do business with Australians. ‘They’re too parochial’, ‘they look north for partners, not south’, ‘they don’t rate New Zealand capability’ are common messages given.”

If this was ever true in the past, it seems times have changed.

The resounding message from the research is that Australian companies want to do business with New Zealand firms. They would often prefer to do business with New Zealand before other parts of the world such as the US and Asia. In fact, doing business with New Zealand companies is compared to doing business with other states of Australia.

The problem is they don’t hear enough from us. “New Zealand's modesty, rather than Australia's parochialism, is what's preventing us from getting more business in Australia,” said Mr Green.

In a quantitative survey of 255 Australian grocery shoppers, approximately one third freely mentioned food and beverage products that they would go out of their way to purchase because they were from New Zealand, with quality and taste the main reasons given.

However, outside of New Zealand primary produce, there is a very low awareness of products overall from New Zealand.

According to Melbourne Trade Commissioner Shona Bleakley, a unique New Zealand story is needed. "We need to capitalise on the respect and goodwill that Australians have for New Zealand while showing what New Zealand can offer that adds value.”

The next challenge is to better market New Zealand capabilities and raise awareness of innovative products and companies. "We need to convince more New Zealand firms to regularly take the 3-hour flight to gain a deeper understanding of their customers and build business partnerships, and equally bring more Australian decision-makers to New Zealand, said Ms Bleakley.

Mr Green agreed, “Rather than just seeing Australia as a market for growing exports, it's an ideal place for more Kiwi businesses to create scale by starting their own operations in the market, either by themselves or with Australian-based partners."

Wider survey findings across the US, UK, Japan and China indicate that New Zealand’s business culture is seen as being ‘high in human values, but low in business acumen’. In short, we have the enthusiasm, but not the savvy to compete in international markets.

NZTE Chief Executive Tim Gibson says this sends a clear message to businesses: “New Zealand companies to step up their game. New Zealand has some very successful international operators and other New Zealand companies can learn from their example.

“It’s all about research, market understanding and commitment. There is a fine line between retaining our laid-back values and underselling ourselves but I believe New Zealand businesses can make the most of New Zealand’s unique attributes and still be competitive.”

The perceptions findings will feed into NZTE’s international marketing programme, New Zealand New Thinking, sharpening up how we differentiate New Zealand internationally.

NZTE also has programmes aimed at lifting more New Zealand businesses to an international standard and helping them get established in world markets including the international Beachheads programme. More is being invested in these programmes over the next few years and the survey findings are being communicated to the providers of NZTE’s New Zealand-based export education and capability building programmes.

“The big plus is where overseas perceptions match the way we see ourselves – a clean green nation populated by honest down to earth people, says Tim Gibson. “This is an incredibly strong platform for New Zealand companies looking to set up, or expand, in international markets.”

More information for businesses on all the findings will be available at


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