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 Grooming tourists-0000

Over two million tourists land in New Zealand each year. While they take time to whale watch, bungy jump and soak in hot pools, they are a largely untapped brand sales force for Kiwi products in their home countries.

BY:  Sangeeta Anand

New Zealand exporters have yet to rise to the challenge of actively using inbound tourists to serve as brand ambassadors for Kiwi products and services.

Exporters usually try to reach offshore markets through distributors, agents or the internet. Inbound tourists, however are a ready pool of people who could informally help with brand recall and indirect marketing for many companies.

The greater the exposure domestic products and services have to overseas markets, the more international competitiveness and demand they enjoy.

DB Breweries has adopted an effective solution for creating brand awareness in Australia, through its wholly owned sales and marketing company, Drinkworks, based in Sydney.

Beer Lovers

Drinkworks has a marketing team that is responsible for the development and marketing of Monteith’s and Tui and is supported by a sales team across Australia. In other markets, local distributors carry out this function. 

“Currently tourists experience DB brands through a number of venues nationwide, with particular emphasis on Monteith’s through its 25 bars around the country,” says Andrew Daniells,  DB’s business development manager. 

Most tourist hotspots feature a Monteith’s bar and they provide a great vehicle for showcasing New Zealand beer and food. “We get a lot of positive feedback from Australians who have experienced the Monteith’s range of craft beers while travelling through New Zealand and then look for Monteith’s in their home town. We have featured Monteith’s in the Arrivals magazine [distributed free at New Zealand airports] to further raise brand awareness. It specifically speaks to those inbound tourists and we plan to repeat that,” says Daniells.

Creating brand recall is very important, given that more than 50% of all arriving international visitors (returning Kiwis are not included) have visited the country before. It provides New Zealand exporters an opportunity to build brand loyalty.

Future Customers

New Zealand Natural creates such brand awareness by focusing on incoming tourists. “Every tourist is a poteGrooming key takeaways-0000ntial business partner or future customer. So it’s important that we are seen, and that every experience is a positive one,” says Fraser Brown, New Zealand Natural’s export manager.

With high visibility of its products, supported by targeted marketing campaigns, promotions and consumer sampling, the product and business promotes itself to a large degree. “There’s no doubt that visitors to New Zealand gain more of an appreciation for what the brand stands for after visiting New Zealand,” he says.

However, word-of-mouth promotion appears to be a very cost-effective and easy way to build brand awareness internationally. “We utilise business partners such as ticket agents, our website, franchises and word of mouth to promote business offshore,” says Andy Harvill, group marketing manager of Zorb, a market leader in the activity of globe riding, which attracts many tourists.

Harvill says tourists who come to Rotorua can be expected to tell family and friends about their experience, so there is indirect brand awareness created through them. “The only drawback being that given that there are 2.4 million visitors in New Zealand, it is not possible for all of them to come to Zorb,” says Harvill.

Power of the Word

In a similar fashion, New Zealand’s oldest wine maker, Napier-based Mission Estate Winery, promotes offshore business through its importers and regional distributors. Informal word-of-mouth is the preferred option.

“Although we do not use incoming tourists as agents/distributors and resellers offshore, word-of-mouth is a huge asset to our business. We have 100,000 visitors a year and they are major advocates for the experience once they return home,” says Victoria Crowther, the winery’s brand manager. 

And it seems to work. “Numerous customers from the US and UK come here on the personal recommendation of friends,” adds Crowther.

For a company like Icebreaker, which is exporting to more than 2,000 stores in 24 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America, word-of-mouth works well to promote products.

“This helps us to work closely with our retailers. This is also the best way for visitors who come to New Zealand to find out about us. We also have Touch_Lab stores at the Wellington and Queenstown airports which create brand awareness for incoming visitors,” says Icebreaker spokesperson Lee Weinstein.

While there is no hard data to suggest how many incoming tourists act as brand ambassadors offshore, companies do rely on anecdotal feedback. “We get emails from people offshore who are planning a dinner here because of a relative who visited,” says Crowther.

Staying Connected

However, this experience is not shared by another exporter. “I sell heaps of my scarves to overseas tourists but have never to my knowledge had an export enquiry resulting from this. I was exporting to a woman in the Netherlands but anecdotal evidence from her suggested that if she cannot triple or quadruple her money it’s not worth her while,” says Loris Ives McAuslin, who runs Merino-Lace. 

Despite the scope to exploit incoming tourists to promote business offshore, New Zealand is still in the early stages of effectively doing so. Creating a link between the tourism and export sectors to facilitate information exchange would be a positive step.

Exporters could benefit from better understanding different cultures and going out of their way to develop relationships.

This is key to creating awareness overseas. Satisfied tourists can be expected to give positive feedback when they return home, a cheap and potentially effective way to promote the country and its products.

There are a number of ways in which exporters can develop global business relationships. New Zealand exporters can establish or join industry-specific networks.

Networking sites can provide a platform to interact with customers online. Incoming tourists can network with prospective exporters even before they arrive in New Zealand and after returning from their overseas trip.

Also, maintaining an international client database for effective after-sales service will increase brand equity of the companies overseas. At the same time it will expand awareness exponentially by word-of-mouth publicity.


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