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Winning the “brand battle” is the key to success for New Zealand’s exporters – making sure that consumers know about their products, and why they should buy them.

New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) has released research* that highlights the key challenges faced by exporters.

The research revealed that the five major challenges for New Zealand exporters were building brand awareness; finding the right partners and channels (ie intermediaries, such as retailers and distributors); strong overseas competition; understanding how destination markets differed from New Zealand markets and each other; and determining the right export pricing strategy and product-related costs to remain competitive and profitable.

NZTE analysed its interactions with more than 500 firms over a five-year period to identify these barriers to success. NZTE’s chief executive, Peter Chrisp (pictured), said the analysis highlighted the challenges that businesses grapple with most frequently.

“This analysis also shows us how these challenges vary from sector to sector. For food and beverage companies, brand propositions and market access loom large, while for manufacturing the emphasis is on channels and channel partners. Service firms are heavily reliant on in-market recruitment, networks and resources.

“To add another layer of complexity, all these sectoral variations operate differently within different geographical markets. Therefore, the biggest take-away is that, while we talk in general terms about ‘taking New Zealand to the world’, it’s really the micro strategies and the micro learnings that matter, which is why this analysis is so useful.”

All of these challenges have been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly brand awareness and developing the right business connections, given there is no international travel, says Chrisp.

“As part of the Government’s Trade Recovery Strategy, NZTE has really powered up its support for exporters. We have doubled the number of companies we work with intensively, from 700 to 1400; we have increased the number of people in our overseas offices, to provide crucial in-market support; we’ve launched a Made with Care brand campaign to help food and beverage exporters; and we now have a digital service that can help many more exporters (4000) at an earlier stage of their export growth journey.”

Chrisp said a core part of NZTE’s service was detailed advice to enable exporters to address those main barriers. “Each business is different, but each business can learn from others and our experience, whether that’s how to refine your brand to reach the right audience, how to build a long-term relationship with a distributor in another country, or how to make sure you’re choosing the right market to target.

“We encourage all export businesses, or those thinking about starting to export, to become a customer of NZTE, so we can navigate them to the right tools and resources to take the next step.

“By joining NZTE, businesses receive immediate access to our online hub myNZTE, which delivers rich content, learning modules, practical tools and resources. They also receive access to a range of NZTE-led in-person and virtual events, as well as the option to book a time to chat with our customer advisor team.”

NZTE welcomed the Productivity Commission’s report on frontier firms and their impact on New Zealand’s productivity.

“Exporting and international trade is important to improve our productivity levels, and productivity is the biggest generator of wealth and prosperity for all New Zealanders,” says Chrisp.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is in a period of transformation, a generational shift from volume to value. Historically, our economy has relied heavily on a few primary commodities for its exports. But we are increasingly seeing New Zealand businesses chase discerning global consumers across food and beverage, specialised manufacturing, tech and services.

“For NZTE, this means we are focussed on supporting those organisations striving to produce niche-hunting, knowledge-intensive, high-value products and services.”


*The research, ‘Exporting Challenges and Responses of New Zealand Firms’, is now available on NZTE’s website. It was commissioned to support the Productivity Commission’s major investigation into ‘frontier firms’.

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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