New Zealand Urged To Improve Brand Visibility In Food and Beverages

By @diplomatist10 on
Larry McKenna, chief winemaker and director at Escarpment
Larry McKenna, chief winemaker and director at Escarpment, looks at grapes hanging from vines at the winery located near Martinborough village, east of the city of Wellington, March 6, 2015. New Zealand's cooler climate is giving its winemakers an edge as they seek to exploit growing global demand for lighter, premium wines, as rising temperatures push up the alcohol content of wines from rivals such as Australia and the United States. Picture taken March 6, 2015. Reuters/Naomi Tajitsu

Brand New Zealand can play a big role in the international market and create its own loyal followers, as its appeal of "clean and green" is very strong. However, a majority of overseas consumers are still unaware that their food originates in New Zealand, which is undermining the potential and opportunities of New Zealand food and beverages to leverage its international standing. So, the efforts to promote the premium brand image of New Zealand as "clean and green" needs a new approach. This has been stated in a study, which also suggested remedial measures to retrieve the lost opportunities.

Maximising Export Returns

Named as "Maximising Export Returns; Communicating New Zealand’s credence attributes to international consumers," the study, conducted by Lincoln University Agribusiness and Food Marketing Programme has Director Nic Lees and Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit director Professor Caroline Saunders as its authors.  The correctives suggested in the study include visible labeling and good relationship with industry buyers. It also calls up Kiwi food exporters to expand opportunities for New Zealand food and beverage by increasing communication about its credence attributes, specifically to consumers and gatekeepers, who are the main buyers in the supply chain.

According to the study, the New Zealand origin is blanked out at distribution channels where the products go for further processing and get repackaged and rebranded or turned into ingredient for other food products. Nic Lees says New Zealand’s beef and dairy exporters need to be more pro active as unbranded commodities, while entering the manufacturing sector get disguised as raw materials or ingredients for processed products. Similarly, significant proportions of lamb and venison exports also go to the food service sector and get served in hotels, restaurants and institutions, but they are never identified as of New Zealand origin.

Branding At PoP

For consumer, credence attributes are very important. So, hiding the point of origin is a loss in branding opportunity for a country as well as the consumers.  Credence attributes are some special attributes expected by a consumer that make a product unique even though they cannot see them. "As a result, a large percentage of New Zealand food exports do not have New Zealand origin identification or branding at point of purchase. Consequently, New Zealand-specific credence attributes get lost,” the study noted.

This happens mainly because of New Zealand exporters' apathy while selling products to brokers or traders and they do not engage in wider communication on the credence attributes. Also the gatekeepers do not maintain long-term relationships with a number of New Zealand exporters. For both parties, price is the sole deciding factor.

Way Out

But Lees says it is possible to arrest that situation, by effectively communicating the credence attributes as New Zealand-specific and boost up the value and of food products among the consumers. There are some success stories too, where New Zealand brand wields a bigger influence. They include kiwifruit, wine and some dairy brands. "These products demonstrate it is possible to capture a significant consumer premium for quality attributes that incorporate both the experience and credence attributes valued by consumers. These brands were able to become an effective quality cue or search quality attribute for consumers,” the study highlighted.

The report lauded consumer marketing in China by kiwifruit giant Zespri with its advertisements on public transport and mobile phones, which rapidly pushed up its online sales. The report is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Food and Beverage Information Project. The research is expected to assist in developing many premium New Zealand brands, and also hasten the ongoing diversification of the New Zealand economy.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)