NZ is not a state of Australia!

PAT PILCHER has a fairly large bone to pick about a tech industry hellbent on ignoring the fact that NZ is not part of Australia.

As the world shifts into recession, history begins to repeat. A grim reality that Kiwis have long lived with is again thrown into sharp relief.

While many international tech brands are available in New Zealand, very few are represented locally. For most of us, this might mean we get hit in the pocket, paying more than Australians, Brits and Yanks, but it otherwise makes little difference to our day-to-day lives. That almost all tech brands in NZ are represented out of Australia is the bane of a tech media journalist’s existence.

Why is this? Sourcing gear to review went from being a simple matter of answering (or sending) an email to chasing people in Australia who are, at best, indifferent to the needs of New Zealand media. Usually, after many wasted hours, we are told tough shit, and that’s that.

As I type this, I am watching a product announcement over a Zoom meeting video. Australian journalists are comfortably ensconced at a bar with food and drink provided, possibly having been flown or driven to the venue. Kiwi journalists, by comparison, are sitting in dingy home offices wearing polite smiles. It speaks volumes about the current state of tech media in New Zealand, and what is happening isn’t good.

Nowadays, marketing budgets supplied by corporates to their Oceania regional offices reach Australia and stop there. New Zealand is left to pick up the crumbs. While Kiwi tech journalists get to deal with the shitty end of the stick, the real loser in this situation is you, the consumer and ultimately the brands themselves.

With marketing budgets held in Australia, Australian tech media usually have little difficulty sourcing review gear or attending product launch events. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, suppliers are given few to no review samples and no budgets to hold launch events. As most good tech journalists (including yours truly) will refuse to write a review for any gadget sight unseen, the net effect of this is fewer reviews. This means Kiwi consumers cannot make informed purchase decisions and are less likely to purchase that brand’s product.

This weakens New Zealand tech media, frustrates Kiwi consumers, and results in poor New Zealand sales for the tech brand whose budgets got moved to Australia.

NZ tech media is weakened as they find themselves unable to review gear. No reviews equal no readers, no readers equal no advertising, no advertising equals less or (gulp!) no media. Not good!

This inevitably results in NZ consumers relying on Australian, US or UK tech media. The upshot of this is that they can’t get local pricing or assess the gear’s relevance to the NZ environment. They often waste a lot of time researching products not available in New Zealand. Worse still, the reviews themselves are at best only partially relevant to the unique needs of NZ readers.

 

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Frustrated, many NZ consumers turn to other brands, while sales for the brand run out of Australia slump in the New Zealand market. I’ve seen this happen again and again over the past 20-plus years I’ve been covering tech. The same corporates never seem to learn from their past experiences, repeating this mistake at the slightest whiff of a recession.

I’ve grossly over-simplified the situation, but the sad reality is that Yank, Jap, Chinese and EU multinationals can’t grasp that NEW ZEALAND IS NOT A STATE OF AUSTRALIA. While there are similarities, more is different than is the same.

Imagine the uproar if a major brand shifted all its US marketing to Canada, Japanese marketing to Korea or Chinese marketing to Taiwan? New Zealand has had a “put up and shut up” situation imposed upon it as a small country with a bigger neighbour. Accountants with a piss-poor grasp of geography seem hell-bent on short-term savings. They are seemingly unable to grasp the bigger picture. Thanks to corporate amnesia, this dire situation is set to rinse, wash and repeat and we are all so much poorer for it.

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