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BMW is to Germany what 'X' is to New Zealand

27 Sep 2016
By Rebecca Smith
Country Opportunity NZ Story

Germany has BMW, Audi and Volkswagen. Switzerland has Rolex, Tissot and Toblerone. Japan has Nintendo, Sony and Toyota. We have the All Blacks, Fisher & Paykel and Air New Zealand – right? 

Not quite. Unfortunately, according to research our much loved local brands, which are also undoubtedly great export successes, are not as globally recognised as we may think. 

Why does this even matter? We’re still doing very well as a country, especially considering our size and geographic location. Tourism is booming, dairy is heading into recovery and everyone wants to live here. We also produce some great stuff from carpet to tea, and don’t forget we’ve got Xero making accounting as beautiful as Aoraki / Mt Cook on a clear day and everyone knows who the All Blacks are, I mean Richie McCaw has his own movie! 

Sorry to mildly burst the Kiwi rhetoric, but international research tells us that having globally recognised consumer brands is an advantage that positively impacts a country’s ‘Made In’ factor, and while we may think the All Blacks have significant cut through, we seem to be lacking a BMW. 

According to FutureBrand’s Made In research: “Successful brands themselves do contribute to Country of Origin associations. In other words, the more brands we know of that are ‘Made In’ a country, the more likely we are to prefer it as a Country of Origin. 

So where do we find our BMW? Xero certainly presents an opportunity for the future, however the current export association with New Zealand itself is limited due to the international positioning of the company. And the reality is we can’t easily compete with the established clout of Apple, Coca-Cola and McDonalds, which link so effortlessly in consumer minds back to the US of A. What we can do however, is what we do best. Be smart and ingenious in our approach. 

To balance the scale I would also argue that the Kiwi rhetoric above does have weight, we just have to use it wisely and collaborate more to get the cut through and share of voice that other countries do. Which is of course where the FernMark comes in. In the absence of globally recognisable brands the FernMark is a unifying mark, it binds us together and signals strongly to the world that we are of New Zealand. 

And this is very important because according to FutureBrand country of origin is a key driver of consumer choice: “the country of manufacture itself is more important than ever to consumers in their purchase decisions. Where something is physically made is now one of the significant influencing factors in consumer choice”. 

We would take that a step further and argue that products from New Zealand have the ability to drive a premium price point because of the positive associations people have of us. 

It is now a year since the FernMark Licence Programme was re-launched and we are proud to have over 40 licensees (and growing) in the programme. It is these 40 licensees who are now doing the job of what BMW does for Germany. And the great thing is that it’s a symbiotic relationship with these licensees also getting the benefit of leveraging New Zealand’s good country reputation to help grow their businesses. 

In celebration of the FernMark License Programme turning one this month we want to thank all of our existing licensees for the work you do to leverage and promote New Zealand. We look forward to another positive year of growth for the programme, our exporters and indeed New Zealand.