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Curse of-0000

Aussies are different creatures to Kiwis and exporters who will thrive across the ditch are those who can learn to spot the difference and wiggle their way into the rather closed networks with good products and services.

BY:  Val Leveson

Many New Zealand exporters go into the Australian market unprepared – assuming the two markets are similar and what works at home will there. This can be an expensive mistake.

As cultural differences between New Zealand and Australia are less obvious than with other countries exporters may be dealing with, many assumptions are made, says Tim Green, Regional Director, Australia Pacific, at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).  “We have a similar look, a similar way of talking, it’s easy to think they are similar in the way they do business.” 

Green says that when going further afield, Kiwi exporters get some mileage when they say: “Hi, I’m from New Zealand.”  “This may last two seconds in Australia – the novelty factor is just not there as it is in other markets. Many New Zealanders are not quite prepared for that.”

Under estimating the differences

With entering most countries, exporters try to develop an understanding of the culture. “Kiwis tend to be not quite prepared for Australia because they underestimate the differences and are underprepared as far as engaging is prepared. I think the preparation exporters do is lacking in general, but it is pronounced for the Australian market.”

Curse of Hi key takeaways-0000Firstly, Green says, do your homework. Be aware that the geography is on a completely different scale to New Zealand, and the cities can differ greatly from each other. Shipping costs and time of freighting things between cities costs a lot more than in New Zealand.

Australia also comprises different states and territories. It’s not one market – each state can have different consumer tastes, there are different rules and bureaucracy to go through.  Be aware of what you are trying to do: “Are you trying to bite off Australia in one go or building a strong presence in one city and then another?”

Then there’s the culture. “Australians have different values to us, and their tastes can be different – you need to adapt your products and services.  There’s a lot more bureaucracy there than here as there are more levels of government. You can be dealing with Federal, State and local council law. There is no uniformity between states.”

Green says it’s important to be aware of Australians’ way of doing business. “It’s about closed networks – there’s a lot of old school ties, sports clubs stuff going on. It’s important for Kiwi companies to crack those networks. This takes time. Even if you have the best product and plan, it will be no good unless you’ve cracked the networks.”

Breaking into the networks

He says one way this can be achieved is through employing Australians who already have contacts. “Or engage with the Kiwi expat community – they can be a great resource. Join networking bodies – sporting clubs, professional networking, whatever is relevant.”

Green says it’s important to recognize that Australia is not as open as New Zealand. “A lot of business in NZ goes to public tender – this is not the case in Australia. Knowing the right people is vital.” In short, Green says solid research in planning your entry into the market is vital. “On the plus side, because of the differences in the two economies, Australians can be prepared to pay a lot more for products. Know the value of your product.”

He says the NZTE has looked at businesses that have been successful in Australia, and have found the five Cs of success: Clarity (having a plan, vision), cash, connections, capability and commitment (you need to persevere, not just set up shop and expect success straight away. And never take your eye off the ball of the market back home, he says.

There were some exporters contacted for this article who said they didn’t want to comment as they were still doing business with Australians, and didn’t want to jeopardise that.

Direct, confident

Business Development Manager at DB Breweries, Andrew Daniells says: “We have noticed that Australians are more direct in manner and approach than New Zealanders. “They are usually very upfront and tell it like it is which means you know where you stand, which is good thing. Generally I have never been belittled or put down due to being from NZ or selling an NZ product in fact I have always found them to be open and interested in what we have to offer.

“Unlike New Zealanders, Aussies don’t have a need to prove themselves to anybody, they are confident nation and know what they want. If you have strong offer and are open and direct you will fit into their world. I have found that on the whole they have a genuine interest and respect for what New Zealand offers in food and beverage and so you will get a good audience,” he says.

“By the way don’t bother talking rugby unless they bring it up as it ranks way behind League and AFL!”

Andrew Baker of IQIdeas says: “Australia is an interesting market and it’s a big mistake to assume it’s the same as here. Rather than doing it by ourselves, we’ve decided to get in to the market by using a distributor.

“We do find that our relationship with this distributor is different to ones from other markets. There’s more of a closeness – we will send products to their warehouse and they take what they need and pay for it. We adjust order quantities accordingly – this makes the situation less of a risk to them. They’re the only ones we deal with in this way.”

Baker says Australians do do business differently than New Zealanders. “We have chosen the distributor route because it’s an expensive market to get a foothold in, but it’s possible that we may decide to develop networks and do it ourselves at some point.”


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