David Downs: The New Context

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David Downs: The New Context

By David Downs, CEO, New Zealand Story


Over the past few months, it’s great to see Aotearoa New Zealand actively out in the world again – our tourism numbers are picking up; our exporters are travelling, meeting their customers, partners and suppliers; our education providers are out there finding students to come back to NZ. The overarching message is that ‘New Zealand is open for business again’, and this has been the focus of the work New Zealand Story and others have started, as part of the governments ‘Reconnecting to the world’ strategy.

Personally, I have been lucky enough to travel internationally too – to Dubai, to see the World Expo; and to the USA as part of the Prime Minister’s trade delegation there. Both gave me valuable insights about what global markets are doing, and real-world experience of the new reality. The world is the same, but different. Everyone and everywhere has their covid-19 response story, and New Zealand is not unique in the re-emerging. Spring is upon us, collectively.

One overarching insight that I have is that the old rules still apply, but the game is different. When marketing internationally, you still need to understand your customer, know their context, their hopes and dreams. Marketing is about understanding how to transmit the values of your brand, in a way that will resonate with your target market. You need to have a product or service they want, and to tell your story in a compelling way.

These are still the core truths – but the context has changed. Consumers are looking for a stronger values alignment – covid has shown us the fundamental need to care for people, and the climate change crisis is showing us the need to care for the planet. This was a trend previously – now it’s a rapidly accelerating imperative. The context we are now in, is one where consumers (and companies, thanks to ESG targets) are now hyper-aware of the impact their purchasing decisions have on their families, their communities, and the planet. They are looking for brands whose values align with this new direction.

Therefore, the need for quality branding and marketing is as strong as ever, particularly in that international market. We know that Aotearoa New Zealand enjoys a strong reputation, and a high level of admiration globally, for many of exactly the things consumers are now interested in. Brands and companies from New Zealand can leverage that reputation for their benefit, and they can reinforce it through their actions.

I encourage you all to take the time to understand the new context, and work with it – and be good for the world.

New Zealand Story are the sponsor for the International Marketing category of the 2022 Aotearoa Effie Awards in association with TVNZ. This category recognises campaigns that run in other countries but are designed to generate financial, sales or other results in New Zealand. It recognises marketing campaigns for New Zealand based organisations that were developed here in New Zealand but have run in other countries, but with the specific and sole intent of generating results in New Zealand.

To find out more and to enter this year’s Effie Awards Click Here.