Natural Health Products New Zealand Summit 2018

OPINION — Building a healthy reputation: Why the FernMark can drive trust and credibility for NZ exporters

By Sarah Morgan

- Last updated on GMT

A FernMark licence 'can help exporters of health products increase their market potential'. ©iStock
A FernMark licence 'can help exporters of health products increase their market potential'. ©iStock
The global health and supplement market is changing, with more people demanding transparency and authenticity. Sarah Morgan of New Zealand Story Group explains why the FernMark is a strong commercial tool for promoting and protecting New Zealand's brand in the health export sector.

The global health industry is experiencing major transformation. The escalating conversation around climate change is encouraging a move away from traditional sources of protein to alternative sources, such as plants and insects, while the growing preference for vegetarian and vegan lifestyles is driving more consumers to supplement their diets to maintain their health.

The organic health movement is widespread, encouraging people to consume 'free-from' food to avoid the intake of chemicals, additives and preservatives.

Alternative healing methods are growing, too. Turmeric is the latest revelation, its anti-inflammatory properties commercialised for treating acne and diabetes.

This growth has been supported by fast-developing technology enabling online shopping. A 2017 Tmall Global Annual Consumers Report​, published recently by Tmall Global and CBNData, showed beauty products, food and supplements, and mother-and-baby products were the top-selling categories on Tmall Global, helped by the 60% of households — almost 70% in high-tier cities — who purchased FMCG products online last year.

The demand for health products in China — a major market for New Zealand health product exporters — is being driven by conditions like smoking and diabetes.

Damon Paling, Trade Commissioner at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, China, says 100 million Chinese are affected by type 2 diabetes. Around 13% of Chinese medical expenditure is on diabetes, and 50% of Chinese adults are classified as pre-diabetic.

Additionally, over 300 million Chinese are smokers, and 100,000 deaths per year are linked to second-hand smoke inhalation.

All these trends are underpinned by a globally ageing population and people wanting to take more responsibility for their health. UN data shows that by 2050, there will be 2.1 billion people over 60 — more than double the 2017 figure of 1 billion.

According to MBIE, in the year to November 2017, New Zealand's 'innovative foods' were valued at nearly $1 billion and the worth of essential oils and cosmetics was $176 million. 

Huge opportunity

All this presents a huge opportunity for health product exporters, especially those from New Zealand.

New Zealand has an advantage when it comes to global consumers buying our products. Our country is perceived as being safe and ethical, and having a strong link to nature and natural processes. We are also trusted when it comes to doing business.

In fact, the 2017 Anholt-GfK Nation Brands Index (NBI) placed New Zealand 14th​ out of 50 nations, showing strength in areas of natural beauty, strong governance, sound investment and a thriving export sector. Our climate is also internationally renowned as a great place to grow plant-based health products.

But New Zealand exporters must not get complacent. Global consumers' desire for trust and authenticity is more prevalent than ever, especially in an industry where people's health and well-being are at stake.

Essential to consumers' growing desire for legitimacy is knowing where the products they purchase are from. A 2016 Nielsen Global Brand-Origin Survey found 75% of its respondents considered country of origin as important as, or more important than, nine other purchasing drivers, including selection or choice, price, function and quality.

How can you provide consumers with a quick and simple way to identify the country of origin with the assurance that it is authentically from New Zealand? With New Zealand's trademarked FernMark​.

The FernMark is the NZ government's official accreditation programme. It's a visual representation of everything that's good about New Zealand: trust, authenticity, good business relations, transparency, peace, global creativity, sustainability and of course, our famous Kiwi ingenuity.

The FernMark captures the essence of who we are in a simple, globally recognisable national symbol unique to New Zealand.

Most importantly, a FernMark licence can help exporters of health products increase their market potential: It shows where your product is from, offers trademark protection, earns your brand credibility through government association — and all this establishes trust with consumers, who are then more likely to buy your products.

Currently, 20% of FernMark licensees are from within the health industry, including health supplements, skincare, dental care, sunscreens and anti-pollution masks, and we're keen to increase this number to make New Zealand known for more good things. 

The more FernMark licensees across more health categories, the more global consumers will recognise and seek out New Zealand FernMark-licensed health products, driving growth for the industry as whole. 

In a fast-developing world, it is critical that New Zealand exporters stand out on the world stage, build trust with global consumers and get instant recognition — with help from the FernMark.

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