New research commissioned by New Zealand Story Group reveals significant shifts in Australian consumers’ and businesses’ perceptions of New Zealand since 2015.

New Zealand Story CEO David Downs says the findings reinforce that now is a critical time for New Zealand businesses to champion our shared history with Australia and build on their new-found respect for our progressive and inclusive society driven by our national values.

“We’re witnessing significant shifts in the Australian psyche that signal admiration for the way we behave as a nation, what our businesses and culture can offer and the improved outcomes that can be achieved through collaboration,” says Downs.

Australia’s view of itself is changing – and that is influencing its growing admiration for the values it perceives New Zealand represents. Benchmarked against earlier research, the latest findings point to the increasing desire for a balanced, well-lived life rather than winning at all costs. Intolerance is becoming less acceptable as the focus shifts to a greater sense of community, hope for social change, and care for people.

“Australia’s shift towards an inclusive mindset signals a huge opportunity for New Zealand and our businesses to emphasise our values and way of life that Australians increasingly admire. These include a balanced lifestyle, positively functioning political system, progressive policy-making, and a practical, ‘can-do’ attitude.”

The research also identifies some ‘shadows’ Kiwi businesses need to address – notably a perception that New Zealanders can be reserved and that we are less open and connected to our Australian neighbours than before the pandemic. The Trans-Tasman travel bubble closure likely influences this finding in response to rising COVID-19 cases in 2021.

Despite New Zealand’s global reputation for being easy to do business with, the research found that exporters’ ability to sell to Australia at scale is a perceived weakness. That is attributed to New Zealand’s small and fragmented nature, an important research insight reminding exporters that successfully selling to Australia requires commitment to a ‘long-game’ mindset.

“There’s also a view that our smaller economy can hold us back, the higher cost of logistical and shipping expenses can be a barrier and that at times we undersell ourselves,” says Downs.

“Businesses can counter this by dialling up the positive attributes Australia sees in New Zealand products and services. The research shows Australia values New Zealand’s premium and authentic offering. Descriptions like ‘integrity, purity, natural, boutique, and good for the environment’ featured as uniquely New Zealand attributes. Incorporating these into stories about what we offer is vital to countering trading barriers.

“Our message to Kiwi businesses wanting to strengthen their trading relationship with Australia is ‘don’t hold back’ but be ready to meet subsequent demand. Promote your successes and the unique New Zealand values embodied in your business model and ethos.

“Leverage to the utmost Australia’s growing admiration for us, and prepare to invest in ongoing sales and marketing support to help with the follow-through that Australians sometimes believe is lacking,” says Downs.

How New Zealand exporters can ‘win’ Australia

Food and beverage – show (don’t just claim) how New Zealand is pure and natural

– Highlight your environmental and ethical practices to build quality cues and justify the premium

– Be prepared and ready to scale beyond the first shipment. Transparency around capacity and capability is critical

– Be prepared to invest the appropriate amount of marketing support and sharp pricing to ensure minimum sell-through rates are met

Technology and investment – ingenuity bred from our place in the world

– Stop being humble about New Zealand inventions – ‘bragability’ builds credibility

– Embrace our absence of divided states that Australians envy – but shift from small to bold and advanced

Manufacturing – care for every step of the journey

– Leverage our trusted brand in highly regulated sectors like primary industries – but go beyond to leverage quality credentials in emerging sectors like medtech

– Continue to leverage a clear design aesthetic that is born from New Zealand’s unique environment, including Māori culture incorporation, which Australians are increasingly admiring

Education – creating new world leaders

– Highlight innovations, particularly in sustainability – where there is a growing desire

– Demonstrate inclusivity, acceptance, and spaces for cultural learning

New Zealand exporters can download the research Australia: Turning up fit for business at www.nzstory.govt.nz

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