generic branding


True Aussie” meat products have been around for 12 months or so in export markets, and we are told of its great success, Japan is particularly pointed out, where “That True Aussie beef logo can be found on more than half of retail packs in Japan now, and growing fast.” MLA Japan spokesman.

Yesterday, the  National Farmers Federation came to the party with at least public support for the idea,  supporting the suggestion that the “brand” was potentially far wider than just meat.

“True Aussie”  is another in the long line of group marketing initiatives based on generic branding. They are attempts to leverage the assumed clean green credentials of Australian produce created by industry bodies funded by levy. Meat, horticulture, dairy and  grains have all had a shot, domestically and internationally over the 35 years of my memory of these things.

Where I wonder are all those lavishly promised outcomes, those dollars flowing back to farmers because the international consumers demand Australian produce over produce from anywhere else in the world?

However, it is a very appealing idea, which I guess is why it keeps on being wheeled out again, and again, as the panacea.

Focus the marketing funds against the common concerns of all consumers rather than spreading it around by operators acting individually, build the value positioning of Australian produce by providing the assurance of product provenance, and promising great value for money”.

Problem is that to date, in the real world, it has not worked. Perhaps things have changed sufficiently that this time, attempt number ?? how many?

Back in 2001, running a maverick operation called Agri Chain Solutions that had been reluctantly outsourced, at the direction of the then PM Howard, from the old department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (AFFA) I commissioned a piece of research aimed at uncovering the motivations driving the decision making of those who controlled the supply  chains in markets targeted by produce exporters. The results were not a surprise to anyone who had really thought about the problems facing produce exporters,  but were not popular amongst the industry bodies at the time.

In summary it confirmed that those who did not sell anything, ie industry bodies, had no power in the game beyond the power to give money for promises, and when the money ran out, nothing really had changed.

Supply chains, particularly those dealing with commodities, are driven by volume, availability and price, at least they are once you get past the regulatory barriers that populate and pollute the commercial environment. If you do not own anything, if you do not have the power to change anything except by committee consensus, have no power of coercion, and if you are  not commercially agile, and able to differentiate, you get taken to the cleaners.

Every time.

There is an old saying, we’ve all heard it, ‘do what you have always done, and you will get what you have always got’

Well, we are doing it again.

The digital tools we have now have potentially changed the game by giving the real opportunity for supply chain transparency, potentially turning them into demand responsive chains, but that requires real skill and commercial discipline to pull off, which is still sadly absent.

I hope that this time something I have not seen has changed that will give us the promised outcomes, I genuinely hope I am wrong, but unfortunately I suspect history is going to be repeated, and in another decade, it will roll around again.