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NZ is not a sales subset of Oz

Kiwis might often call Australia the West Island, but the harsh reality is that New Zealand is often seen by some IT companies as a small appendage to Australia.
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Written by Darren Greenwood on

Kiwis might often call Australia the West Island, but the harsh reality is that New Zealand is often seen by some IT companies as a small appendage to Australia.

Of course, historically, New Zealand was part of New South Wales and some empty seats remain in Canberra should New Zealand and Australia ever become one.

However, even though many businesses increasingly run their operations from Sydney or Melbourne, those organisations that treat the countries as separate entities will find this pays handsome dividends.

This is what Fuji-Xerox was telling me this week, noting that over the past year it has enjoyed a massive 163 per cent increase in sales through its channel partners.

It had opened new offices in Auckland and was "investing heavily", in the New Zealand market, it told me.

Companies, their bosses told me over lunch, find they cannot dictate the New Zealand market and what might work in Australia doesn't always work in New Zealand.

It was a common mistake to treat them as the same, when companies were smaller in New Zealand and there were differences in the maturity of the markets.

Fuji-Xerox saw Australia as "more mature" noting that Kiwi companies still tended to use several brands and types of printer, whereas in Australia, companies had tended to consolidate them.

Furthermore, while Australia was dominated by three large urban areas — Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — New Zealand had lots of smaller towns, needing a different channel strategy.

New Zealand customers also seem more price sensitive; they had a greater focus on the short term and they seem to want more support.

"We make decisions in New Zealand [but] we use infrastructure support from Australia," said Colin Hewett, business development manager of Strategic Accounts.

And that, perhaps, is the secret of their success.

Indeed, as a technology journalist, I can vouch for much of what Fuji-Xerox says.

When it comes to businesses and their PR people trying to get a story in print, it certainly helps to have local presence.

Businesses get to know their markets better, even if that "market" is the journalist.

And the journalist also gets to build that one-to-one relationship, which always helps.

Of course, there will be occasions when serving New Zealand from Sydney will be most economic. But for those that do see New Zealand as a separate entity, with its own market characteristics, as Fuji-Xerox shows, the pay off can be huge.

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