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20 July 2005

Do we need new symbols of National Interest?

Ausmadeswngtag Ausowned&madelogo waowned ausmade_logo

A recent set of comments by writers to David Dale’s July 12 column www.smh.com.au/articles/2005/07/11/1120934178159.html “How to Australianise”our supermarkets in the Sydney Morning Herald attracted our attention. Dale was commenting on the ability of consumers to buy Australian made and owned products in the nation’s supermarkets. Consumers willingness and ability to buy these types of products is more important these days given Coles Myer and Woolworth’s duopolic dominance. With 70% of the Australian market, they remain the most dominant supermarket retailers in the world and a cause for concern by both consumers, the Australian Competition Commission and competitors alike.

We took a look at the Australian Made site www.australianmade.com.au to see what constitutes an Australian made brand. According to Australian Made, “the Australian Made logo is a registered certification trade mark. To qualify to use the official Australian Made logo, products must comply with the country of origin provisions of the Trade Practices Act. Australian Made products must be substantially transformed in Australia, with at least 50% of the cost of production being incurred in Australia Licensees of Australian Made products must have a current licence agreement with Australian Made Campaign Limited; and agree to abide by the Australian Made Logo Code of Practice.”

Australian Made’s own 2002 research suggests that “the green triangle and gold kangaroo logo is the most recognised country of origin symbol on Australian shop shelves, enjoying a 96% recognition level amongst Australian consumers. With nine out of 10 consumers saying they have purchased goods carrying the trade mark and 66% say they actively seek out products that are made in Australia.” This is not backed by what the SMH commentators say, most want to see more publicity on what constitutes Australian made and owned. They are confused by the plethora of logos and marks and it seems that, on the face of it, the Australian Made logo does not enjoy the recognition it claims.

As we note in our previous blog on the specificity of brands, more accurate Place of Origin branding would make it easier for consumers to choose Australian made and owned brands and would perhaps force retailers to stock more of this Place of Origin product. German supermarket company Aldi has established a considerable beach head in Australia and already uses the “80% Australian made ” as a point of difference, but the new Woolworth’s Select range (a name we know was “copied” from Tescos Supermarkets in the UK) and the new premium GC Coles brand would also be perfect vehicles to adopt the Australian made and owned branding.

One of the problems with endorsing brands like the Australian Made logo is that it is not an absolute benchmark and thus can create a tendency towards ambiguity about ownership. While Australian Made rightly makes the point that people can feel more confident about products that carry this logo, the evidence from the small sample of comments in Dale’s article is that people do not necessarily trust this and other words carried on packaging. They’re looking for a recognisable symbol of both aspects of Australian production and ownership. More importantly, we believe that Australian Made should be raising its limits on what constitutes an Australian made brand and sponsoring a move to an an absolute benchmark for Australian made and owned. 50%+ production in our mind does not constitute this and from the SMH consumer comments, the use of this symbol continues to reward those companies that are no longer Australian owned.

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