By TONY LEGGETT

A new strategy to promote wool and educate people on its many uses in a modern world has been launched by the New Zealand branch of Campaign for Wool (CFWNZ).

The CFWNZ is not asking farmers to invest directly to fund the strategy, expected to require about $1m of investment over the next 18 months.

CFWNZ chairman and sector development manager Tom O’Sullivan says the funding will come from the voluntary 1c/kg collected from supporting wool merchants and buyers, plus cash on hand. The levy is collected at the point wool is tested.

O’Sullivan feels the strategy is well timed to capitalise on the swing in consumer support towards natural fibres.

“NZ wool is positioned perfectly to take the mantle as the world’s most premium super-fibre. But you can’t sell a secret.”

“Demand needs to come from the consumer and we need to start now to ensure people are aware of how wool fibre might benefit them in their lives.”

O’Sullivan says the CFWNZ strategy is not another spend-and-pray effort.

Key measures like consumer awareness of wool and increases in wool product purchases will be tracked and reported back to the board.

“We are also analysing market and wool category trends globally to help us pick the next opportunities for wool in different markets.

“With strong wool we can create the biggest wins in the ‘built environment’ by pushing wool’s thermal properties, flame resistance, humidity control and even acoustic comfort.

“Wins in these areas will ultimately be reflected in growing wool prices at the farm gate as the demand for wool products increases.”

O’Sullivan says the intention is to establish CFWNZ as a “wool information conduit” for both consumers and industry and focus the investment in four specific areas of activity.

The key message for consumers is ‘live naturally, choose wool’ and will be promoted in all its communication and education activities. For industry, particularly architects and interior designers, choosing wool first and increasing the use of wool in the ‘built environment’ will be advocated. The CFWNZ ran a very successful webinar for NZ architects earlier this year and reached hundreds of people in the sector.

Developing the CFWNZ’s website capabilities and building digital engagement, particularly through social media activity, are also key priorities in the strategy.

“We will speak to consumers who make conscious purchasing decisions based on environmental impact and we’ll be aiming to ‘influence the influencers’, like developers, architects, interior designers, and even the government,” he says.

Research into consumer attitudes to wool will be undertaken to help unlock market opportunities. For the industry, the strategy includes the tracking of where and who is selling wool products to build an accurate picture of trends in demand and activity.

Finally, effort will go into growing a family of brand partners creating consumer products using NZ wool so they can share insights and collaborate. A digital portal is also planned to provide resources for industry to use in business development and marketing.

O’Sullivan says the initial phase of the strategy is focused primarily on the NZ market before tackling other global markets.

“We need to build assets, get our messaging tested and refined before we tackle markets beyond our shores. But it’s definitely in our longer term plan to roll this out globally in the future.”

O’Sullivan says work has already started on getting the right human and digital resource in place for the next phase. This includes recruiting a campaign manager to support and action the activities.

“Within the next six months, you’ll start noticing changes. This is an integrated campaign and there is no silver bullet – it won’t be one thing that makes the difference – it’s everything put together in the right way at the right time to create a groundswell of demand over time.”

O’Sullivan says the first report on the impacts of the strategy will be delivered in 12-18 months from now.

He will lead delivery of the strategy, supported by experienced marketing strategist Kara Biggs from ABV Marketing.