We think Australia is a great country. That’s because we live here. But is it a great, unique, distinctive tourism brand? Are the wide open spaces, big skies, dazzling beaches, quality wines, good food, eco-adventures, indigenous culture and city nightlife enough? The Germans think so. The Italians don’t. The Brits think we’re fading.
Advertising veteran Russel Howcroft adressed a tourism conference in Australia last week with some eyebrow-raising statistics. For the most part Australia as a brand has been slipping in the wrong direction over the last nine-13 years according to his company, Brand Asset Valuator’s global study. Howcroft is the national CEO of Y&R Brands, Australia and New Zealand. Y&R Brands ANZ is a communications group of companies which includes businesses such as George Patterson Y&R, Campaign Palace, Ideaworks, Wunderman and Brand Asset Consulting.
“Australia often struggles to make the right relevant connection,” he says. “Which is a shame because when we analyse what happens, when people do come and visit us, we see an incredible rise in their assessment of brand Australia. Australia’s promise of adventure delivers superbly, with a massive increase in the belief that ours is a brand worth paying a premium for.”
Here’s how foreign tourists see Australia: The Chinese think we’re stylish and classy – but not very helpful; Americans see us as carefree and rugged, but we don’t deliver quality or good value; The British regard us as charming and independent – but untrustworthy; Indians believe our daring is offset by arrogance.
Howcroft says the positive news was these perceptions could be changed. Tourism Australia is trying to do that as part of its $A180 million “There’s nothing like Australia” campaign. In June Tourism Australia launched its campaign in China to pitch to the growing Chinese middle class, with an eye on India, Indonesia and Malaysia. He says the results were different when people who had actually visited Australia. After Brits visited, they shared the overwhelmingly positive view of the country of Australians, who rate our homeland as tops as a different, relevant, reliable and friendly destination.
Australia isn’t cheap, so travellers need to have a perception of very high quality, high value for what it costs them when they get here, to appear reasonable, he says. Only about 9 per cent of foreigners nominated Australia as good value. Yikes! The Y&R Brand Asset Valuator comes from surveys of hundreds of brands globally, with data co-ordinated in New York, to present a picture to advertising agencies of what 700,000 consumers want in different nations.
What do you think of Australia as a tourist destination?