Positioning for Premium in Export Markets:
PRICE FIRST…then back it up with QUALITY
Australia and New Zealand produce some of the best food and beverages in the world. There is little argument from anyone, anywhere about that. Equally, there are plenty who argue our producers are not getting paid enough for their effort. I’m one of them, and I’m not alone. New Zealand’s Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, is onboard too. He has set New Zealand exporters an aspirational goal of taking export earnings from $32 billion to $64 billion by 2025. Clearly, he wants to earn more. That’s an awesome target, which should be a catalyst for refocusing a few minds and driving some paradigmatic shifting.
Can it be done? Was Everest climbable? Was the America’s Cup winnable? Back to back World Cup wins? All proved doable. I can tell you, being an Aussie in New Zealand has its challenges. Bottom line: If you can conceive it, you can achieve it, but changes will have to be made, and the pace of change will need to accelerate dramatically. That means more than just talking. From this point to achieve that BHAG target, it’s about having a serious crack. The Aussies are winding up too, investing millions into food and beverage innovation and backing their exporters to the hilt. New Zealand and Australia’s economic and trading relationship is recognised as one of the closest in the world, as it should be. It’s time both countries got on the same page and harnessed the power of premium provenance in export markets. Both countries do not produce enough to feed the world. Instead, let’s look after our environments, our exporters, our balance sheets, and our premium customers. No one wants to end up living in a low wage economy churning out more and more commodities for others to add value too.
There will be some challenges and producers will need to step up to the plate. They need to become accountable for their business models and their choices. Anyone can throw blame at a cooperative for failing in the market, but that hasn’t fixed anything in either country. The world is absolutely chock-full of food and beverage choices and those choices are increasing every minute, of every hour, of every day. If you’re a consumer wanting to shop for a premium brand, sorting out the wheat from the chaff can be challenging. Navigation markers are required. Savvy marketers know this, and their primary tool for positioning their products in the premium space, is price. Price sends the premium message best. A higher price automatically suggests higher value. It sends a psychological message to consumers and helps them define good, better, and best. Best is where Australia and New Zealand should be sitting. Get behind the business models that can deliver ‘best’.
Price is a powerful decision influencer and making sure you back up your premium positioning with premium quality is mandatory. Any product pitched to premium consumers has to walk the talk. If it’s a premium steak, it has to eat right. If it’s premium Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it needs to deliver the crisp, elegant and fresh notes the region is famous for. If it doesn’t, and the wow factor is missing, that equals disappointment. And disappointment isn’t what you want. Positioning failure can be disastrous for a brand. Consumers will quickly walk away and they’ll tell plenty of their mates. Bad news travels fast. Even worse in an export market because fixing it is much harder.
So how do you deliver premium value? Putting the price up is the easy bit. Delivering on consumer expectations is much harder and it requires the courage to invest in yourself and your brand. It requires genuine, unshakeable, belief in your product. It requires marketing, marketing, and more marketing, and you need to be crystal clear about who you are and what your brand stands for first. And Shanghai is not Sydney or Auckland, do your research.
Premium producers like Peter Greenham, the Managing director of Cape Grim Beef in Tasmania exemplify what’s possible. Appearing on the menus of top restaurants like Rockpool, Tetsuyas’s, Movida and The Point, he has established and consolidated a premium meat brand. Today, Cape Grim is exported throughout the Asia Pacific and the US. It clearly demonstrates how-to achieve a premium position and price. Greenham has used the provenance of Tasmania and its pristine environment to anchor the brand and tell a story, and he has backed up his story with some of the best eating meat on the planet.
By Jim Wilkes