Chris Stephenson
Jul 31, 2013

The view from Australia: Challenging for brands to break into, but worth it

As part of the Asia's Top 1000 Brands report , we asked experts from around the region to share in-country expertise on the factors driving branding in their markets. Chris Stephenson, strategy director, PHD Australia, shares the view from Australia.

The view from Australia: Challenging for brands to break into, but worth it

The world’s largest island and smallest continent, Australia remains a fertile market for brands that are willing to embrace the opportunities on offer. This is especially true for technology brands; Aussies are rapid adopters of new technology and gadgets, which coupled with disproportionate time spent with social media makes for a population ready and willing to embrace new and next.

The highly urbanised population is growing. At 9.57pm on April 23 2013, the Australian population hit the 23 million mark. Statistically, the 23 millionth Aussie was a boy called Jack. Odds suggest his mother was 31, his father 33, and he was born in western Sydney.

Technology is, and looks likely to remain, the primary driver of branding trends. Screen proliferation is front and centre: research from Google suggests 45 per cent of searches are now on mobile, as are 40 per cent of all shopping queries. Consequently multi-screening is a key trend, driving everything from localisation of targeting to TV companion apps (and ads).

Mark Ritson famously and accurately described the Australian market as oligopolistic, as such smaller brands can struggle to break into established categories. This is especially so with Australia’s supermarkets, with FMCG and other brands struggling with the power or Coles and Woolworth’s monopoly of the category.

ASIA's TOP 1000 BRANDS 2013

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A market with a Western characteristic in the Asian geography, Australian brands can find themselves stuck between the rock of being a global brand and the hard place of needing localisation of content and strategies – localisation which is often seen as costly given the relatively small population.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for brands are one of their own marketers’ making; with many Australian brands and marketers displaying a high degree of conservatism when it comes to embracing innovation and risk in communications.

Despite this, a host of brands have distinguished themselves with innovation and smarts in their marketing efforts. Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign was proudly developed in Australia (probably because it was far from the watchful gaze of Atlanta). Domestic brand Coles continues to cut-through with its communications, with a successful integration with the TV show Masterchef and this week’s calling in of worldwide phenomenon One Direction for a new campaign.

Tailors to the Australian Cricket Team, suit maker MJ Bale grazed an elite team of sheep at Australia’s famous Sydney Cricket Ground and then wove the wool into their suits. Air New Zealand’s Australian team innovated with content that tackled the country’s scepticism about holidaying in New Zealand by surprising unsuspecting Aussies with a trip to our neighbour.

Tontine added use-by dates to their pillows, Art Series Hotels gave a piece of Banksy art away to the first person who could steal one from the premises, insurance company NRMA constructed an entire car out of the bits that their competitors don’t cover with their insurance, and Metro Trains got the message about rail transport safety across by getting Australia (and the world) to sing along to Dumb Ways To Die.

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