Younger generation embraces Australian Made

After 33 years in market, the Australian Made Logo continues to offer a strong point of difference for both local manufacturers and consumers. A major project for the Australian Made Campaign over the last 12 months was to thoroughly test consumer preferences for accredited products. Australian Made Chief Executive Officer, Ben Lazzaro recently spoke with AHJ on the research that was conducted, saying that last year’s test results show consumer preference for Australian Made products remain very strong, particularly amongst the younger generation.

“When we communicate to younger consumers, it actually makes sense to talk to them about things such as sustainability, ethical use of labour resources and products that have done less miles to come onto the shelf. By talking in this way, you are hitting on issues that are important to younger consumers,” Mr Lazzaro said.

“While we recently found that 88 percent of Australians trust the Australian Made logo, when you delve into the 25 to 34-year-old segment, this trust goes up to 94 per cent. You could consider this unusual given it is the older generation that often has an affinity with Aussie made products.”

“This means that there is an increased level of understanding around buying local, alongside the implications and the positive impacts of doing this from a younger group of consumers. We also found that the language they are using around why they buy, or do not buy, products is somewhat related to their environmental and ethical concerns.”

“Those that have lived through times where there has been better access to Australian Made products have a deeper understanding of our campaign, but we are really encouraged by the fact that we are making some in-roads with the younger audiences,” he said.

A preference for Australian Made products remains evident throughout the hardware sector, with 61 per cent of Australians indicating they have a fondness for Australian products. The challenge is to define what some of these products are, according to Mr Lazzaro. 

“When you look at building and renovation materials, or the materials that are used in construction, 65 per cent of consumers say they have a preference for using Aussie products and of course a lot of this is driven largely by the safety concerns around various items such as cladding and other building products.”

“Aussies generally have a high trust in Australian Made products, but this also then carries a range of attributes that they associate with the logo, including high quality, safety and high standards. These are all major factors for consumers,” he said.

Australian Made suppliers

As a third-party certified trademark, Mr Lazzaro pointed out that it is far more compelling to have a third party communicate that a product is genuinely Australian Made to consumers, rather than a brand doing this itself, because it lends authenticity to the product.

“If being Australian Made is important to a business, it makes sense that they use this accreditation to make the Australian connection. The logo does this instantly and clearly. However, being Australian Made is only one part of the decision-making process when a consumer is looking at purchasing an item. There are so many others parts to this process including fit for purpose, size, colour, brand and many more. If suppliers use this logo to satisfy the Australian Made part at a consumer’s point of purchase, it is one less area of doubt in the consumer’s mind.”

“Tradies are another group that support us because they take pride in their own work and want to use materials and tools that will allow them to deliver high-quality results to their customers. There is an affinity to work with Aussie products and best in class to deliver those outcomes,” he said.

Increasing applications 

Applications to use the Australian Made logo continue to increase with many hardware licensees now accredited, including Apex Tools, which became a licensee in 1999, and Mumme Tools, which is well entrenched into the mining sector and consumer market. Ace Gutters are also made here in Australia and have been providing quality products for some time, Mr Lazzaro said.

“One of the most interesting things about working in this area is the exposure to such a wide variety of products that are made here in Australia. While a lot of companies approach us, we seek them out as well to try and highlight the benefits they could reap from using the Australian Made logo,” he said.

“The profile of Australian Made products is heightened at times when there is a perceived issue with imported products in the media. Over the years we have seen concerns highlighted in the media around imported electrical cables and cladding products. At these times Australian products stand out from competitors because they are made here to Australia’s highest standards. When things like this hit the news, it really does emphasise the value of continually telling customers and industry stakeholders who Aussie manufacturers are, because they have so many positive attributes associated with this.”

“We also have sheet metal, tool belts and tool box manufacturers, as well as drill bit manufacturers, such as Sutton Tools, which is also licensed. Where safety, precision and high quality are important, Aussie products really come into their own. In a market where there is a lot of selection and choice, being certified Australian Made is a wonderful way for a brand to differentiate themselves in this sector,” Mr Lazzaro said.

Australian Made accreditation requirements

Achieving an Australian Made accreditation is a process that is not taken lightly, according to Mr Lazzaro, who said there are a set of rules that need to be met to carry the certification trade mark, and these rules are based on Australian consumer law. 

“Essentially to become accredited, suppliers have to demonstrate that they have substantially transformed the input components into a fundamentally different product. This is particularly important if manufacturers are using some imported input components. If you use all Australian components that originate from Australia when producing a product, then the assessment is far simpler,” he said

“We also have a very fair fee scale implemented to fund the campaign. We then spend this money on ensuring the integrity of the logo is maintained through compliance programs, as well as marketing and promotions, which conveys to consumers that if they see the logo on a product it means it is genuinely Australian,” he said.

It is also very important for the Australian Made Campaign to ensure its messaging remains relevant to all sectors, because products that are accredited are so diverse, according to Mr Lazzaro.

“We keep our messaging simple because the products are so varied, and the logo may be used by literally every industry sector in Australia. It is our job to make sure that this logo is only on products that meet the criteria.”

“We also follow up a lot of complaints, as well as reported misuse of the logo, and they originate largely from concerned consumers and competitors. They are the best policemen and they are very helpful to us,” he said.

Looking ahead to 2020, Mr Lazzaro said the Australian Made Campaign will continue to release its ‘Australian Makers’ series of videos. The short-form video collection seeks to celebrate Australia’s diverse and evolving manufacturing sector and shine a light on the people, processes and stories behind some of our most loved Australian products.

“Australia is a high cost country so all of these manufacturers should be applauded for continuing to do what they do to the level they do it in a very competitive market place,” he said.