As recently outlined by Saul Eslake, the key to success for Tasmanian exporters is to compete on quality, both real (content) and perceived (brand value). Tasmanian exporters that range from whisky, walnuts and meat, to high speed ferries have taken that advice and combined it with innovation and calculated risk taking to produce export products that take on the world.
The Tasmanian whisky producer Sullivan’s Cove took inputs from Tasmania's pristine natural environment and built a whisky distillery and ultimately a global brand at a time when Scotland, Ireland and the US were the countries associated with whisky. Given that whisky often needs to age in barrels for more than a decade before it can be bottled and sold, it takes relentless dedication to both brand development and product development to see the company through to making a profit. Sullivan’s Cove currently exports to the US and but is not competing on price because the quality of the product and the firm’s sales development activities have created a niche in the world whisky market for Sullivan’s Cove.
Likewise, Tasmania’s ability to export marine technology and products is a testament to an industry sector that is prepared to innovate and take on the risk required to build an export brand. Incat has long been known for its advanced shipbuilding techniques but to overcome barriers to entering the US market it took an innovative approach to the structure of its company by partnering with Bollinger Shipyards in the US. This cooperative approach that combines production in Tasmania and the US to win sales in the US market is an example of Eslake’s advice to build a winning brand as well as a product.
The companies highlighted in this blog demonstrate risk taking, innovation and a long term view that focuses on quality and selling, rather than price competition. The follow are a few points to keep in mind when building an export plan.
1. Make a financial plan to sustain your overseas business development activities that will initially operate at a loss.
2. Understand that another company in the export market that sells a similar product could be either a partner or a competitor.
3. Adapt your product, company structure or marketing to fit the export market while remaining true to your brand promise.
If you want to provide input on how Australian exporters develop their markets then comment on this blog or send me a message via
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