By Sarah Morgan
Whether you’re based here or overseas, your connection to New Zealand can give your business a serious competitive edge. So don’t underestimate what your identity brings to the table.
Kiwis tend to avoid most of the tourist stereotypes. We don’t wear socks and sandals, zinc sunscreen, or bright tropical shirts. But when you go on holiday, you’ll still be asked ten times a day where you’re from. Why is that? The short answer is that it matters. Your Country of Origin helps people build a picture about who you are, what you value, and how best to connect with you. Business is no different.
It starts with Country of Origin
Country of Origin is a simple and effective way to promote our country and grow awareness of our products. It’s also a great way to talk about the values we hold as a nation; our care for people and the environment, ingenuity, and integrity. Those values can be expressed through stories and imagery that reflects the environment in which these products are created.
New Zealand food and beverage companies use Country of Origin particularly well, since their products are clearly grown or made in New Zealand. One great example is VOGEL’s, a New Zealand food brand that aligns its values with those of our nation. It’s not only kiwi expats buying their ‘world famous in NZ’ products - international consumers are clearly buying what VOGEL’s is selling too.
Country of Operation matters too
While Country of Origin is really important, typically we have focused heavily on our natural environment to tell our story and sell our products. This makes it seem less relevant, especially if you’re exporting services rather than products. And that’s where Country of Operation comes in. It’s a term that describes the approach of businesses who go straight to market, a shift that’s spearheaded largely by our technology companies.
Being based in the ‘Country of Operation’ is really important for these export businesses. It enables them to connect with their customers on three core levels; communicating in the local language, understanding the specific business culture, and having a physical presence so they can offer timely support and fast delivery. For many of these companies, their New Zealandness doesn’t feature in their sales pitch. But it should.
Get the home advantage
Being based in another country doesn’t mean your home country is no longer important. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Research shows that more and more, consumers want to know the origin story behind a company. Not only that, but in a global market saturated with products and services all claiming to be the best, your story can really help you stand out. Like the tourist in a foreign land, it’s a talking point.
The great news is that there’s plenty to talk about. New Zealanders are known for our drive, our problem solving, our ingenuity, and our genuine desire to building lasting relationships. These points are as relevant for a Kiwi software company based in China as they are for a dairy exporter based in New Zealand. On top of that, we’re also first in the world for ease of doing business – and that’s well worth talking about if you’re going global with your own business.
When talking about successful Kiwi digital businesses, NZTE chief executive Pete Chrisp says, “These companies have started out with an ambition to build a global business from New Zealand, rather than building in New Zealand first then evolving. It can be a winning strategy, as these companies chase rapid customer growth in niche high value markets.”
That approach is working for Timely, the most loved appointment software in the world. It’s working for Vend, the cloud point-of-sale software that’s experiencing huge international growth. And it’s working for Fingermark, who design and build world-leading digital platforms and touchscreens. According to Luke Irving, Founder and Managing Director of Fingermark, “Being a Kiwi company is hugely important to the success of our global ambitions”.
Ultimately, great products and services are ‘what’ people buy from us, but our unique values and culture are ‘why’ people buy from us – and why they’ll keep coming back for more. So if you’re thinking about taking your business to the Country of Operation, don’t forget to take your Country of Origin with you too.