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An Insight: How to prevent your Australian exports bouncing back to NZ faster than a boomerang

Australia, our closest market of significant scale, more often than not seems to be the first recognizable step in a Kiwi firm’s internationalisation.

As inherently Anglo-Saxon, sports loving, and easy going we both may be – it is tempting for Kiwi firms to run their Australian business ventures according to New Zealand rules of play. However recent research conducted by Bella Katz suggests otherwise – rather when in Australia we should do as the Australians do.

Melbourne based Katabolt Associate Bella, interviewed eleven Australian-based leaders of New Zealand companies representing a variety of business models, industries, size and age to gain insight into the realities of NZ businesses working in Aussie. The learnings are essential reading for New Zealand businesses thinking about hopping across the ditch or contemplating change in the way they engage at the moment.

Throughout all eleven interviews Bella conducted, a common theme emerges – Australian management needs autonomy rather than just responsibility. Put simply, New Zealand modus operandi do not directly transfer to Australia and thus Australian managers need to be given the freedom to do their own thing.

The interviews also illuminate that products need a strong back-story – it is simply not enough to be on the shelf. Although a challenge emerges wherein the NZ Brand story that NZ firms often use to catalyze their international success becomes somewhat irrelevant in the Australian environment. Rather firms should emphasize why their product is a superior offer in the market and how they will grow profitability for Australian customers. Furthermore small tweaks are needed to create a more authentic Australian presence – whether it is an Australian address on collateral or an Australian version of a newsletter.

For us here at Katabolt, the findings ring true. Australia is a unique proposition for Kiwi businesses but like all markets you need good people on the ground who know the sector, have the networks and understand your competitive advantage in the market.

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