Magazine article New Zealand Management

"NZ Made" Missing the Point

Magazine article New Zealand Management

"NZ Made" Missing the Point

Article excerpt

Some decades ago the then New Zealand Manufacturers Federation launched the Buy New Zealand Made campaign. It was based on a similar campaign in Australia and was aimed at producing greater sales for the manufacturers selling in the local market by persuading the public to buy locally made products rather than those that were imported.

It also had the secondary aims of reducing the expenditure of overseas funds and improving employment levels in New Zealand. The government of the time and the Council of Trade Unions supported the campaign.

A very recognisable, stylised kiwi logo was designed and a number of large manufacturers were signed up to use the logo on their products. An extensive advertising campaign, including TV, was implemented with mixed results. The numbers of manufacturers joining the campaign fell short of the numbers that were planned and the campaign did not convince the public to buy New Zealand made. That was in stark contrast to the experience in Australia where the similar campaign was well supported by both the manufacturing sector and the public at large.

Despite that the campaign still continues under the auspices of Business New Zealand, the organisation established with the merger of the Employers and Manufacturers Federations.

In the period since the campaign was launched the manufacturing sector has undergone some profound changes. It started with the economic policies of the Labour government of the 1980s, followed by the 1987 sharemarket crash. Many manufacturers went out of business because they could not compete with imported product.

In addition, many exporters found that their business was not really profitable when export incentives were removed. There is no doubt that local manufacturers still cannot match the imported goods for price unless they are producing perishable goods or have a real technological advantage.

The good news is that some very smart businesses realised that, to sell products in the world markets, a point of difference is needed. That point of difference is adding real value to the raw materials that are produced in New Zealand at a competitive cost and with stunning design.

Despite the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of our education system, the reality is that it produces designers and engineers who are in demand around the world. Most people in this country are aware of the reputation of the earthquake engineers and F&P's double drawer dishwashers, but there are quite a number of small to medium sized businesses selling into niche markets, such as the Hawkes Bay company selling cleverly designed school furniture into the United States. …

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