By New Zealand Story
For ZQ Merino, New Zealand’s natural landscape sets the scene for broader discussions about kaitiakitanga, the guardianship of the land and resources required to create a sustainable product.
“When we describe New Zealand in offshore markets, we use videos and images to tell the story of New Zealand’s natural, raw beauty. We showcase the high country where our merino fibre is grown to show that the sheep are free and roaming in our open spaces. We show the rivers and the mountains to set the scene of where our product and our people are from. It’s an effective tool, but other countries can also show great imagery too. So we expand on this imagery by telling the story behind it.”
“ZQ Merino is grown in incredibly beautiful alpine, sub alpine and coastal grassland areas and our growers have developed systems to maximise the production of high quality merino fibre with minimal impact on nature by embracing our role as kaitiaki, the guardians of the land.”
“This environmentally sustainable story plays an important role in adding value to our partners, because they can say with confidence that they know the origin of the wool in their brand products. They know the sheep have been cared for properly, they know there is an environmental standard that has third party accreditation and they know the farmers are being treated fairly,” says John.
While New Zealand’s distinct landscape sets the backdrop for ZQ Merino’s story, the heart of the organisation is their community of growers. ZQ Merino growers are a diverse bunch, who share a common passion and dedication to producing the best merino fibre in the world. This passion shines through in the way ZQ Merino and its growers engage with international buyers and partners.
“It’s vital that our relationships go beyond anything simply transactional. We spend time getting to know the end customers, understanding what their needs are, understanding what we can do to add value to them. It extends to us being like a part of their team. When they come to New Zealand, our partners are hosted here and become an extension of our whanau on our farms and in our homes.”
“Everything we do at ZQ Merino is underpinned by our people and their commitment to add value to our brand partners’ business. It’s really important our customers understand this. We have to show our customers how passionate and imaginative we are, that we’re team players and we’re driven by desire to help grow their business.”
“Our customers need to know they are dealing with a company with integrity, they’re dealing with people who genuinely want to understand their issues and opportunities. And we need to find ways to demonstrate this,” says John.
So, why do some of the most exclusive brands across the world come to ZQ Merino to source their fibre? John maintains that product quality and integrity is an absolute given and is only the start of the story. He says the unique thing about New Zealanders and ZQ Merino is that they’re eager to have conversations that delve deep into problems so that we can develop innovative and clever solutions.
“Innovation at ZQ Merino is not a linear, paint by numbers exercise. It’s a continuous process lead by empathy and collaboration with our partners. We call it the ‘Build, Think and Adapt’ process. We understand innovation is about making things happen that don’t happen naturally. Yes, merino is an exceptional natural fibre, but we can push it beyond that.”
“We make sure our partners know a new concept or product doesn’t come along without applying innovation. It’s a vital part of differentiating New Zealand merino from a simple commodity product, and that innovation has to be embedded in the culture of your organisation,” says John.