As marketers, brands are our powerhouse. At the forefront of our promotional activities, brands define our product identity and ‘stand out’, ensuring our product is remembered and repurchased. A truly powerful brand can be bought on identity alone. The ‘swoosh’ is all that Nike needs to sell its products.
However, in the Pacific region, the New Zealand psyche provides us with a challenge; New Zealanders generally need more than just the promise of a brand to drive purchase – they need to know that they will be also obtaining value for money from this transaction.
A recent report from Nielsen, which surveyed almost 30,000 people in 58 countries, highlights the branding conundrum presented to marketing professionals down under.
While a staggering three in four (74%) Chinese consumers said they would be willing to spend more on designer goods, the highest globally, just one-quarter (26%) of consumers in Australia and 17 percent of those in New Zealand said they were willing to pay more for designer goods compared to unbranded products with the same function.
The Nielsen global report also examined the role advertising has on influencing consumer purchasing decisions. While more than half of global consumers (55%) said that commercials increase their preference for buying a brand, only one-third (32%) of Australian and New Zealand consumers agreed with this statement.
These results highlight what marketers here need to be aware of – that Australian and New Zealand consumers have to believe they are obtaining real value when making a purchase, and this generally can’t solely be for the status of owning a particular brand.
This contrasts with emerging markets, such as Asia, where consumers often purchase goods to obtain a sense of belonging. By buying a Gucci handbag, you’re also joining the ‘fashion elite’ and obtaining the status that comes with this. The brand provides a link to a status.
However, in the Pacific, the need for status is much less apparent, and while we might like the extra kudos a Gucci handbag brings – we generally also need to believe this bag will last for many years and be the best-performing handbag we’ve ever owned, since it costs the most we’ve ever paid for a fashion item.
The value proposition is essential to encourage purchase and needs to therefore be clearly and thoughtfully communicated and highlighted via marketing activities. This also means that marketers in New Zealand really need to understand what motivates purchasers to buy their goods, and hone in on these qualities in all aspects of brand promotion – from advertisements to packaging and point-of-sale.
Status cues alone will fall short; instead premium brands need to work harder in Australia and New Zealand, and avoid relying solely on their ‘premium’ status as a famous brand; it has to deliver more authenticity and better quality to entice the majority of our buyers.
Marketers can use this to their advantage by really getting to know and understand who their customers are, what motivates people to purchase, and why their brand and product offers a certain tangible benefit, and then highlighting this in marketing collateral to engage and entice buyers.