The Australian Made Campaign – Helping Australian Furnishing Brands Increase Sales in International Markets

Exclusive Column by Guest Editor – Catherine Falalis, Editor of Furnishing International

The Australian Made Campaign, and its associated logo is a highly recognised and valued visual tool among Australian buyers and consumers. The famous green and gold Australian Made, Australian Grown (AMAG) kangaroo logo is recognised by 98% of Australians and trusted by 89% as an identifier of genuine Aussie products, according to independent research conducted in 2012 by Roy Morgan. The result of such figures indicates the logo to be a powerful visual symbol in the Australian marketplace, but does it have the same effect within export markets, particularly within the furnishing sector?

The logo is administered by Australian Made Campaign Limited (AMCL), a not-for-profit public company established in 1999 by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI), and the network of state and territory chambers of commerce, with the cooperation of the Federal Government. It is a registered certification trade mark with a strict set of rules governing how it can be used. Products must be registered with AMCL, and meet the criteria in the Code of Practice before manufacturers can use the logo.

Sharing his insight on the matter, Chief Executive of AMCL, Ian Harrison says, “Australia’s high quality and safety standards have earned our manufacturers a reputation for producing exceptional products, driving demand for Australian-made goods around the world.”

“As a result, country-of-origin branding is a powerful marketing tool for furniture and furnishing brands. Hundreds of furniture and furnishing manufacturers use the Australian Made logo to help market their products to shoppers, and more than 40% of those brands use the logo in export markets.

“The logo has been used in export markets for more than three decades, so it plays an important role in helping consumers, distributors, retailers and government identify authentic goods. It is readily associated with all of the benefits Australian products have to offer, which is why buyers actively seek out products that carry the stamp of authenticity.

Strengthening the logo’s position as Australia’s global product symbol is its registration as a certification trade mark in key export markets, including China, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA. This provides a legal framework under local laws in those countries for exporters to rely on, should goods be copied or used without proper authority.”

Australian manufacturers can use the power of the AMAG logo to leverage consumers’ preference for Australian products, and to connect with consumers who are actively looking for, and willing to pay a premium for these products.

Allyn Beard, Director of Australian mattress brand A. H. Beard, speaks highly about the benefits of displaying the logo. He says, “We know that consumers are positively influenced to purchase locally made products, and the logo adds credibility to our country-of-origin claims, so it plays a very important role in our marketing.”

The fourth-generation operated firm employs about 350 people, has facilities in Australia and New Zealand, and has recently begun exporting its Australian Made products to China. A.H. Beard partnered with Chinese retailer, Shanghai Green Foreign Trade Limited, to introduce three bed collections to the Chinese market – A.H. Beard Prestige, A.H. Beard Natural, and A.H. Beard Innovations.

“Our foray into China is the beginning of us taking our Australian Made products to the world, each proudly carrying the green and gold certification trade mark,” says Mr. Beard.

A.H. Beard uses the green and gold Australian Made swing tags on most of its products. The company also features the logo in its retail partners’ catalogues, broadsheets, and trade advertisements.

Kelly & Windsor, another Australian company, uses alpaca fibre to create their quilts and bedding. “In international markets where consumers may not know what alpacas are, we find that the logo is what sets us apart from our competition,” says Managing Director, Trevor Beuth.

In export markets, demand for Australian made products continues to expand exponentially. Australia has a great reputation for its clean and green environment, high health and safety standards and quality, and innovative products. Research in export markets shows that consumers around the world readily identify the AMAG logo with Australia.

A 2010 online survey conducted by YSC Online among exporting AMAG licensees showed that the use of the logo in export markets had increased significantly over a three year period.

The main export markets for respondents were the USA (60), followed by Hong Kong/China (50), the UK (42), Singapore (32), and Dubai/UAE (31).

Highlights included a 67% growth in the use of the logo in the US, and a 90% growth in Hong Kong/China. Canada experienced a growth of 84%, Dubai/UAE 41%, and Singapore 46%.

Export sales information provided by respondents showed that there has been a growth in turnover during the reported period. The number of logo users recording sales of greater than $500K grew by 325%, while the number of non-logo users in the same category only increased by 20%. There was a 17% decline in the number of non-logo users in the under $500K category, while the number of logo users in the same category increased by 31%.

It is no wonder more Australian brands are choosing to become AMAG licensees to utilise the benefits of the logo. Owner and director of Beachouse Furniture, Warren Gould, recently decided to join the campaign with the intention of exporting to foreign markets.

He explains, We chose to join the Australian Made Campaign as we feel very passionate about letting the world know that our business is born and bred in Australia. We are confident that the logo will assist in the best positive level of exposure, as it has also gained respect and credibility in recent times. We hope that the logo will assist us in establishing our export market by displaying a readily recognisable Australian branding mark to the world stage.”

Helping Australian companies embark on their exporting journey is an initiative titled the Export Diagnostic Program, run by Master Builders Australia (MBA) in collaboration with AMCL.

“For many businesses, considering expansion overseas can be daunting, so an expert review and plan of attack can be extremely useful,” says Ian Harrison, AMCL.

“The Australian Made Campaign supports Master Builders Australia’s Export Diagnostic Program, and the opportunities provide local manufacturers to be ‘export-ready’. The initiative assists companies in determining if they have the right tools in place to be successful overseas, and aids in the development of both entry and growth strategies.”

MBA’s National Manager for the International Division, Keith Stubbs, says that more than three quarter of the businesses they have seen come through the program so far shared that their participation has helped them increase sales.

“In some instances, this is because we have been able to help them enter export markets for the first time, and in others, it’s because we have been able to help them fine-tune existing activities to make them more competitive,” he explains.

Buyers interested in purchasing Australian Made furniture and furnishing products should visit the online product directory at www.australianmade.com.au.