It seems there are few topics more divisive in marketing strategyaustralian map v2
than promoting a brand as ‘Australian Made’. For many marketers it smacks of desperation and Bogan pride. While on the client side I’d hear agency planners and marketers claim that Australians had moved beyond it. Many successful businesses know otherwise.

When employment is up and the dollar makes buying quality overseas products and ever cheaper, buying Australian made little sense. This was the feedback often given by consumers when discussing potential campaigns and packaging at least in the last ten years. With many Australian companies also being owned by larger overseas corporations, buying Australian Made for many consumers was seen as a cheap con. The planners and marketers appeared to be right. Australians were savvy.

Things have changed. Factory closures are now nightly news and so too is growing unemployment and as a result weaker consumer confidence. Add to this reduced employment certainty the fall in the dollar, which is yet fully affect prices of overseas products, and Australians are rediscovering the benefits of the enlightened self-interest of buying Australian Made. The chart below shows the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index and buying Australian preference from the Australian Made organisation, which licences and regulate the use of the Made in Australia logo. The results show that a proceeding fall in sentiment or very low confidence is associated with an increase in preference for buying Australian made goods. The jump in confidence in 2012 was when the Household Stimulus Package was paid to low and lower-middle income earners.

How to Fail

Working with clients looking to use ‘Australian Made’ and others trying to thwart those using the strategy I’ve learned some common mistakes when including Australian Made in a marketing strategy. Below are tried and true ways my clients and competitors have used to fail.

  • Kitch Nationalism. While in other marketing inspirational and characters that reflect the target market is the norm, for some reason marketers feel Australians can only get that a product is Australian made is to give a stereotype bogan. Every time I’ve worked on a campaign that shows this image, even among those who the image was meant to depict (read: western or shire suburban and regional consumer), this image was flatly rejected. It didn’t represent them or the Australia they knew.
  • Hide It. Sitting in a strategy meeting I remember a marketer listing our strengths as Australian Made. After much reading and putting on reading glasses we found it written under the address and near the barcode. Not exactly prime packaging real estate. Not surprisingly, consumers did not know we were the only Australian made product on shelf. Compare San Remo packaging to Birdseye.
  • They’ll Get It. Just saying you’re Australia Made does not mean consumers will automatically infer something good about your product. In a focus group when asked they most certainly can generate an inference. In the low involvement market place where decisions are made their behaviour tells the true story.
  • Make it a Communication Strategy. Australian Made logo on pack. Tick. Reference to Australian made in TVC and Facebook page. Tick. No integration with shopper marketing. Tick.
  • Charge a Premium. Just buying your product is not enough. Having given the consumer a reason to buy our product we then want to give them a counter reason not to. Charging more without building a reason why implies an inefficient business. To see how fast some make this link, the recent attacks on factory workers in Toyota and SPC gives a flavour of how quick people make this assumption.

How to Win with Australian

Promoting your Australian Made credentials does work, and as shown in the previous post ‘A snag in Australian made’ by Helena Ngo who helped future-proof a brand’s performance by integrating Australian Made into the brand strategy. Based both on Helena’s and my success in using Australian Made . . . and occasionally being out maneuvered by a competitor using the strategy, below are five ways to win with Australian Made.

  • Be Distinctive. The Australian Made logo has high awareness and credibility. If you can use it; use it. Even if you do not use the logo at least make the best use of the labelling. Marketers have an obligation to the business to make every competitive advantage work for the brand.
  • Give it Meaning. Find out what Australian Made can mean for your brand and then reinforce that message so that it is a central part of the brand. For a long time Herron pain relievers claimed to be Australian Made and made little sales ground against Panadol until it spelt out to consumers what this meant for quality and jobs.
  • Give it Feeling. Qantas was a master of this and so too are food brands like Bega. Buying Australian Made is supporting the home team. Consumers not only want to know they are buying smart but also want the good feeling of doing right.
  • Commit it to Strategy. Determine the level of benefit you would achieve with the strategy then commit to promoting it and its benefits over the longer term and at every touch point, including sales staff, factory and offices. For some brands this has meant being engaged in regional tourism – like Cadbury – or investing in the community.
  • Locally Made. When thinking about the advantages of where your product or sourced, think locally. Australian Made may not be right, but rather focusing on the state or region instead. This approach is likely to work better for local market products.

Promoting your Australian Made is about promoting product strengths and building depth to the brand. It is about strategy. A locally made strategy offers the marketer the possibility of building a long term strategy that differentiates and is relevant to consumers.


To find out more