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April (No. 495)


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Concentrating resources, research, drive State export success

A study by University of Wollongong researcher, David Aylward, has shed new light on characteristics of successful small-to-medium wine exporters in Australia. At the same time, the study has highlighted the importance of clusters (concentrations of industry resources, infrastructure and research) to the export capacity and potential success of wine companies.

During 2004, Aylward conducted a series of telephone and personal interviews with 100 SME exporters from South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria as part of a continuing research portfolio.

Aylward said the study found that firms operating in the South Australian wine cluster were more export intensive, increased export sales at a higher rate and in a more sustainable fashion, and exported to more markets than their counterparts in NSW and Victoria. Aylward said clusters provide SMEs with resources, vertical integration, infrastructure, research, education, branding, marketing, networking and economies of scale that more isolated wine communities cannot access.

“The more highly developed the cluster, the more advantageous the operating environment and the greater the translation of these advantages into a firm’s export activities,” Aylward concluded.

In addition, four in-depth interviews were conducted with firms the survey identified as “best-practice” exporters in an attempt to understand management attributes and attitudes of highly successful exporters.
“This data was organised in an attempt to establish indicative profiles of successful SME wine exporters, with lessons for both other wine firms, and other industries,” Aylward said.

The study found that key drivers for best-practice exporters included strategies to:

  • increase export intensity to between 50 and 60% in the next three years
  • create sustainability in terms of sales and number of markets
  • trial non-traditional but growth-oriented markets such as China, India, Thailand, Japan and regions of Scandinavia
  • create individual brands based on regionality and higher price points
  • target growth in off-licence distributors
  • match brands and style to specific markets.

“The findings closely reinforced my previous studies so there were no real surprises, although the level of difference I found in core export measures between South Australia and the other States was more significant than I predicted,” Aylward said.

“South Australia’s dominance is really quite astounding and certainly underlines the effect of concentrating industry resources, infrastructure and research. I believe that further dissection of this phenomenon is critical in the understanding of policy implications and planning within the industry.

“As for the future of SMEs it appears (and my new study is addressing this issue) that current globalisation trends are creating a new form of localisation, where the clustering of SMEs will create the critical mass that is required within the new international wine landscape.”

David Aylward’s full study “What makes a successful SME exporter within the Australian wine industry” will be published in the 2005 Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker 33rd Annual Technical Issue in June.

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