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Flinders Merino - Opening Opportunities and Communication in Wool Marketing

Posted by Bestprac on Feb 02 2012

By Liz Guerin 
In a semi arid area where options for increasing wool clip profitability through means such as reducing micron are limited, strategies which improve wool marketing are vital

A study tour to China in 2007 has opened up new opportunities, generated new ideas and created marketing relationships for a group of South Australian pastoralists.

Flinders Merino Group, consisting of seven wool producing families arose from membership of the Carrieton Bestprac group.

Flinders Merino chairperson, Mr Geoff Power said the group felt that in order to become a preferred supplier to early stage processors, they needed to be able to tell their story directly.

“The study tour verified in our own minds that as wool producers, most of us do not know our customers” he said. “We know we produce wool in a pristine environment and that, as part of our individual stories needed to be told – it was about a holistic approach.”

Collectively Flinders Merino Group produces an average of 1100 bales and whilst group members still market as individuals, the China study tour has given them contacts and opened up direct markets with early stage processors for some members. Geoff said that collectively it has also made them better marketers.

“We have done things together that we couldn’t have done individually” he said. “At the end of the day we have to produce a product that they want and by dealing directly, if there is a problem, we can fix it. Creating relationships and building trust is what I believe the industry needs.”

Since 2007, one of the highlights for the Flinders Merino Group has been the ongoing co-sponsorship of an AWI Platinum award at the prestigious Hong Kong Poly U’s Institute of Design and Clothing. The award requires the creation of a collection comprising approximately 80% Australian Merino wool.

Geoff said that the creation of the award was initiated after they noticed on their tour that very few young designers at the institute were using wool in their designs. Since then the impact has been huge.

“Education in Hong Kong is expensive and the award has really served well to get young designers thinking about Australian Merino wool.”

Part of the award involves the recipients (both of the Flinders Merino and AWI Platinum Award, and the Woolmark Platinum Award) coming to Australia and staying with Flinders Merino producers, and it is this opportunity to build relationships that has worked well.

“We show them around the area, entertain them and show them our way of life” Geoff said. “We live in a beautiful area and it is a great opportunity to showcase our wool producing story.”

By maintaining contact with past award recipients, Flinders Merino Group members know that even beyond the initial incentive of the award, these young designers are continuing to use wool.

As to the future, Geoff says that the Flinders Merino group will continue to keep evolving new ideas and meet new challenges head on.

“We are keen to look at branding or collectively marketing wool as Flinders Merino” he said. “It’s a way of value adding to what we are doing well now.”

“Having come out of drought, and receiving good prices for both sheep and wool, there has been a complete turn-around in terms of positivity and optimism” he said.
“The challenge now is to keep the enthusiasm going – which is easier to maintain whilst the prices are good - and hopefully by example, we can attract some young people back into the industry as we move forward.”

For more information or to contact the group, please visit their website.

 

Last changed: Feb 06 2012

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