Over the years, New Zealand has built a strong reputation for quality and excellence across the globe, but exporting can be a challenging venture without the right ‘safety net’. That’s what the FernMark Licence Programme is about. The Programme, launched last September as a part of a government initiative managed by New Zealand Story, is designed to help exporters promote, protect and showcase their products on a global scale, by authenticating them with a FernMark logo.

“Research shows that ‘country of origin’ is an important purchasing factor in foreign markets, especially when your product hails from New Zealand,” said Sarah Morgan, marketing manager of the FernMark Licence Programme. Leveraging our country of origin provides a collective share of voice to increase awareness and help get into international consumer consideration sets.

The logo is currently registered in up to 45 classes across 13 countries reflecting key export markets. To obtain a licence, eligible products need to be made, grown or designed in New Zealand. Further criteria include being compliant with all NZ laws, exporting for at least 12 months, and having a substantial level of NZ ownership, governance and full-time employees. The annual fee depends on the company’s annual turnover and covers an unlimited number of products.

“Currently, we have 29 approved licensees with many more applications going through the approval process. This equates to over 70 different product SKUs and 800 product types across 30 different countries. To give a sense of scale, just one product type from one licensee exports 25 million boxes of products per annum.”Fernmark02

With counterfeiting becoming more prevalent in non-traditional categories, particularly the food industry, augmented reality technology has also been embedded into the logo to help minimise any logo misuse. By scanning the logo at the point of sale, consumers are delivered an ‘in phone’ NZ Story video that reinforces the product’s value proposition, and consumers are also able to validate the license by clicking through to the FernMark Licence website.

“We structure our stories by talking about the values that make us unique, our Integrity, Resourcefulness and Kaitiaki,” Morgan said. “NZ exporters rely heavily on our country of origin story, national brand and reputation to prosper and generate export dollars. It’s not something we want to see undermined.”

The NZ Story approach, according to Morgan, has already helped brands like The Better Drinks Co., Zealong and Okains Bay Seafood expand overseas. At the end of the day, it’s all about standing out from the crowd.

“New Zealand products compete particularly well in premium markets. Credence factors such as food safety, fair trade, provenance and environmental stewardship are key purchasing drivers, as well as product traceability and animal welfare,” she said. “Having the FernMark Licence logo provides an instant connection to our country.”