When it comes to exporting our great ideas, location is irrelevant – and New Zealand companies could get airborne faster with a lighter strategy from the very start.
Weightless exporting is putting New Zealand on the map as Kiwis take their IP, brands, processes and unique attitude out to the global market via joint ventures or direct investment in offshore markets.
Grenville Main, managing director at brand, digital and integrated communications agency DNA, believes entrepreneurs with fresh business ideas should look at a business model that allows them to test their ideas locally with a long-term view to taking them elsewhere. Or they could simply drop an existing idea straight into an overseas market.
Our current business model is build it here, get big enough, outgrow New Zealand and then, by necessity, look for offshore markets. But what if we re-engineered that model?
“There are lots of Kiwi businesses that have built themselves up, engineered products and created IP and they’ve used it in this market or become an exporting company,” Main says. “But they could quite easily adopt a weightless model because they’re selling the right kind of things and creating the right IP. We have to say, ‘if we’re becoming a design engine for the rest of the world, shouldn’t we be designing stuff with a view to taking it to the rest of the world before we even test it here?’”
DNA works with a number of companies that have leveraged the weightless aspects of their business to succeed overseas. Some others are just ripe for weightlessness.
As part of a new retail-based model of banking, DNA has helped BNZ perfect the brand, concept and merchandising for OOTB (Out Of The Box) banking system for BNZ’s New Zealand stores. Conceived as a conversational platform for staff and customers, it packages up BNZ’s basic services in a customer-needs, goal-oriented way (a box of cards, tips and information) that’s easier to understand.
OOTB has worked well here for five years; the question was, would it work across the Tasman in the stores of BNZ’s parent company, NAB? Could it simply be dragged and dropped into the Australian market? The answer was ‘yes’, with some fine-tuning to fit customer needs and target segments, it could work.
“We had to look at what specifically would make it successful in Australia, so we tuned the product range and merchandising system. While the size, construct and logic of what’s in the boxes is the same, the brand, product and targeting is different.” Proven to increase in-store sales, OOTB is a fresh concept engineered here by a New Zealand management team and agency providers, and it’s now being delivered in Australia. Not only is it a powerful tool, it’s also a great piece of positioning that makes the bank look smart, innovative and different.
Stepping up to the challenge
Founded in the early 1980s, Foot Science International (FSI) manufactures custom-fitting Formthotics shoe inserts at its Christchurch factory and has distributors worldwide. DNA has worked with FSI on a strategy to reinvigorate its brand, packaging, marketing and distribution channels, in conjunction with a major product-range view and overhaul. A key feature was to define its two medical and retail offerings.
They may be a successful and growing company, but Main believes that by partnering in a smart way with its new partners or its distributors to license manufacturing of some products in different territories, Foot Science could
take a giant leap in market penetration and share.
“Their product could be designed in New Zealand, but manufactured and sold anywhere,” says Main. “Foot Science is ripe for weightlessness. Their current model is a classic Kiwi one – they’ve built a factory, built out of a home market and started to export, but they’ve developed some extraordinarily valuable IP and are in the perfect position to go weightless and become bigger faster if they change their model.”
Crazy ideas and big aspirations
DNA clients Trilogy Skincare and Powershop have strong IP and an ability to capitalise on the weightless model. In each case, it’s Kiwi ingenuity or values that make them who they are. Epic beer is a great example. Founded by Luke Nicholas in 2006, Epic uses many times more hops than traditional beer, so naturally the brand caught the attention of some US brewers here to sample New Zealand beer. They were so taken, they’ve requested the rights to license Epic beer in the US.
“This is about living on the edge of the earth and having a ballsy idea,” says Main. “It’s breaking the bounds of tradition, and that’s a powerful factor. The ‘recipe’ was created here, but it could be made anywhere. New Zealand innovators are almost coming of age now. We’re recognising that our attitudes, approaches and ‘can do’-ism don’t mean we’re half-arsed – we just find different ways of addressing a problem, and that’s actually quite marketable.”
DNA’s rules for exporting success
A concept or model that’s worked in one market won’t necessarily work perfectly somewhere else.
You may have to fine-tune it.
Focus on anything you can build IP around, deliver better value with, deliver ‘in market’ because it’s light, and you can prove customers in that market will pay for.
Consider adding a pinch of Kiwi attitude, create a brand that will have customer relevance, and drive resonance – design a service experience that’s all about user needs and goals.
Stand out – you may beat the tyranny of distance, but you’ll always have to work to beat the tyranny of indifference.
Certain sectors are more ripe because they are light: science and technology, IT, education, film, furniture and food.
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Donna Maxwell, email@example.com