Helena Ngo, Brand & Marketing Consultant writes

Clean water. Clean air. Wide open spaces. Whimsy descriptions australian made v2they are, but true for our country. It is seemingly untarnished; with foreign companies more than happy to buy everything from our farmland to our food manufacturers. The Australian brand is of great value to others but apparently not to Australians, some would think.

The recent news of SPC Ardmona (SPCA) asking for government assistance, due in part to the flooding in of tomatoes from Italy and while SPCA has recently matched their prices, they claim these overseas prices are below its operating costs.

Manufacturing in Australia is expensive. Relatively higher labour costs than some of our competing countries, fluctuating availability of commodities from drought, flooding rains and bushfires are some of the conditions that impact the cost of goods made in Australia.

So are Australians saying they don’t value food sourced in Australia? In this example, Australians appear not to be prepared to pay a premium for tomatoes from Australia than those sourced from Italy. Notwithstanding the fact that Italians also have a rich history with cooking with tomatoes, many Australians have cultural and family links to Italy and key competitor tinned tomatoes are indeed good quality at a great price.

However, while I was working on an Australian produced pet food brand our clear “Made in Australia” position helped deliver market share against key competitors who were produced in the United States. It wasn’t an appeal to kitch nationalism rather our customers understood that “Australian Made” also meant Australian standards. When quality issues did occur with competitor products – Salmonella contamination – it provided customers a reminder of the brand delivering to high manufacturing quality and standards Australians expect.

In fact, my work on distilling the brand’s relevance to the “Made in Australia” position simply conveyed what the customers and field team knew about the brand; “leading edge global research tied to local production to Australian needs”. Though the “Australian Made” task did not end there. Clear execution guidelines were created on the use of all brand assets to further build on the brand meaning and distinctiveness, and the brand was priced competitively to the leading US brand.

My advice to brands and companies looking to use “Made in Australia”, is to treat Australian Made as a brand asset that is the icing on the cake, not just the cake. Australians are a savvy lot.

 

Helena Ngo

Helena Ngo is a marketing consultant who has driven sales growth for key brands at Kraft Foods, Mars Petcare and GlaxoSmithKline in marketing and brand management roles. As an accomplished marketer and independent consultant, Helena works with Eris Strategy clients with brand strategy, new product launches and in developing and implementing communication campaigns.