The Inconvenient Truth About Buying New Zealand Made

It’s Hard To Find. It’s Hard To Buy. It Costs Too Much.

5 min readMay 13, 2020


These three complaints I hear on our social newsfeeds and in too many cases, Kiwis are exactly right. Here’s why.

NZ Made Is Hard To Find In Big Box Stores.

Of course it is. That’s the point. Big box retail preference scale and volume of product imported from overseas…not quality. The low price sticker has trained us to buy on price per product not total cost of ownership (TCO). OK… so explain…?

It means you buy a imported pair of school shoes for your kids that’s half the price of a New Zealand Made pair of McKinlay's. Of course McKinlays Shoes has a secret to longevity… it’s whats kept them winning for FIVE generations of family owners. They have optimised what they produce for QUALITY not PRICE.

Does that matter to a price based buyer? No… so the challenge is back in McKinlays Shoes to find the parents who care about how their children play, run and grow from the ground up. Better quality shoes has a whole lot of benefits for the entire body and they know this better than most.

Don’t Buy New Zealand Made to support McKinlays Shoes. They’ll be fine whatever you decide because they don’t need to sell to everyone.

Buy New Zealand Made McKinlays Shoes because you want your children’s feet and whole body to develop correctly and that starts at the soul.

NZ Made Is Hard To Find Online.

New Zealand manufacturers have been slow to offer direct to consumers experiences that build their brand directly in the minds of consumers like you. Why? They don’t want to cut out their retail channel. After all, those retailers have helped sell their products for years if not decades.

Covid-19 comes along and suddenly EVERYONE needs to trade online. Finally… a reason for the late majority and laggards in the adoption curve to finally commit to eCommerce that Kiwis want. Remember how late we are to this party though.

The Internet has been available for eCommmerce for 22 years now.

Facebook is 13 years old.

Instagram is 10 years old.

OLD Tech.

There’s traditional digital and new digital and it worries me how hard Kiwis have to look online to find New Zealand Made goods. We have made it easier with an ‘NZ Made’ website widget at the bottom of the website of businesses who are licensed, however too many don’t offer eCommerce, let alone click and collect or pay later services.

New Zealand Made is inconvenient to buy from online. The Instagram hashtag #buynzmade and #nzmade provides a fantastic social shopping browsing experience yet few manufacturers are capturing this shift.

We’ve see this in the surprise and shock at how many Kiwis were ready to buy homemade goods from Facebook groups during Level 3 yet it shouldn’t be surprising when you look around to see how long we all stare at our digital screens. The billboard is in our pocket and yet few manufacturers are putting up a sign often enough or that is compelling enough.

NZ Made Costs Too Much

When you’re competing on price you’ve got to be the lowest and to do that your whole business needs to be orientated to volume of production and in a lowest cost environment. New Zealand isn’t optimised for either. So you’ve either got to make a product with attributes that are more important than price. What might they be?

Personalisation. You can get your company name added to the overalls and they’ll keep your cool when stoking the 1200 degree fires at NZ Steel. That’s what Jaedon Manufacturing does because they deeply understand their fabric potential and they…

Deeply Understand The Customer

The Armed Offender Squad have specific needs at a high threat time and Jaedon knows what they want and configure their gear to be comfortable, configurable and within instant arms reach when the action happens.

No imported variety will match their insight and knowledge and the AOS aren’t a price based buyer because the odds are simply too great.

Kiwis Are Irrational

All buyers are. Not just Kiwis. When it matters to us… and us alone. What is your favourite hobby or leisure? Do you always buy the cheapest option? Here’s three answers I got in the last week.

  1. Favourite Hobby / Leisure ?

Traveling. Going to Queenstown after lockdown.

Will you stay at a backpackers and bring your own food?

No. Staying at a nice hotel for some pampering. If you sell high end accommodation in Queenstown you need to attract this customer who isn’t buying on price.

2. Favourite Hobby / Leisure?


Do you get comments from family or friends on how your garden looks and does that matter?

Not really although its nice.

Status. Gardening is a low signal sign of free time and valuing nature both internally and externally. If you sell high end gardening products that make gardening easier, more fun, better, faster, more effective or more enjoyable… you need to find this customer.

3. Favourite Hobby / Leisure? (my own one)

Trekking in the mountains or forest in the national parks.

What about it is important to you?

I enjoy getting away from they city. I like taking photos and like testing my own fitness and ability.

Anyone who has better outdoor adventure wear or gear to sell me that makes my journey more effective, efficient or enjoyable will easily get my money. Brand is part of that, but it’s only part of the story.

The Challenge Is On Manufacturers Not Buyers

Make NZ Made Easy To Find.

  1. Label your packaging.

2. Be present in all newsfeeds.

3, Invest heavily in your website and digital find-ability.

4. Establish direct to consumer relationships for your brand so you don’t lose the direct to consumer battle.

Make NZ Made Easy To Buy.

  1. If you know your customer better than the generic mass alternative and then offer them solutions they didn’t know they needed… you win. Invest in understanding your customer.
  2. Count the number of clicks it takes for a customer to give you money. Reduce it by 50%.
  3. Count the number of questions you have to answer on the phone or in the shop. Reduce it by 50% through better digital content.

Make NZ Made The Lowest Total Cost Solution.

  1. Do the math for your customers. Prove it through direct product comparisons. Don’t just expect customers to trust you. Show them.
  2. Reduce your low skilled wage bill by automating repetitive tasks. Reinvest the savings in up-skilling your team.
  3. Reduce your commmercial rents costs by doing more digitally. Reinvest the savings in making your NZ Made products easy to find and easy to buy digitally.
  4. Invest in your direct to consumer brand even if your retailers get the benefit. Brand equity is something that never depreciates.

NZ Made Is Easy To Find, Buy And I Want It Now!

Easy, Findable and ‘Want-able’ have to be the three guiding stars for New Zealand manufacturers to find their way forward post Covid-19.

Kiwis want to help you… now you need to help make it easy for them.