Change is on the horizon and the future is bright. That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.
Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”
The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.”
While wool apparel remains the big success story of fine wool, it’s the built environment that harnesses strong wool’s attributes best. The Campaign for Wool will work directly with architects, interior designers and government buyers to ensure wool is top of mind when making positive, sustainable decisions during building and renovation projects. “With wool’s thermal properties, flame resistance, humidity control and even acoustic comfort, we’re talking about more than just carpet. Developing a suite of strong wool applications across built environments is an important avenue for growth. Wins in these areas will ultimately lead to higher wool prices at the farm gate, as the demand for wool products increases.”
The Campaign for Wool will also invest in digital tools including a revamped website, a greater presence on social media and an online hub where brand partners can access marketing resources to better promote what they offer. There will be further investment earmarked for the Wool in Schools programme, developing industry partnerships and analysing wool category trends globally to help determine where opportunities lie in more diverse markets.
“New Zealand wool is perfectly positioned to take the mantel as the world’s most premium super fibre,” says Tom. ”With the spotlight trained on carbon neutral targets for businesses and governments across the globe, there are many opportunities to gain traction with wool, and we’re jumping in, boots and all.”
In fact, Tom says growers will begin seeing the impacts of the strategy in as little as six months. “We know farmers have been grappling with the cost of shearing sheep for years, and that many are considering a shift to shedding breeds such as Wiltshire, or moving away from sheep farming altogether and selling to forestry. Our message is to hold on, because we can see the light at the end of this tunnel.”
However, he’s quick to acknowledge that there is no “silver bullet”.
“It won’t be one single thing that makes the difference – it will be everything coming together to create a groundswell of demand.”
The strategy, which will be rolled out over the next 12-18 months, was prepared by strategic marketing consultant Kara Biggs, with input from the Campaign for Wool board throughout. “We’re pleased to have Kara staying on during the implementation stage to keep us on task, and we’ll look to recruit a new Campaign Manager to manage our day-to-day activity as well,” says Tom.
“Next, we’ll look to the coming decade, and beyond. We’ve already created the basis of a long-term strategy and have been actively presenting it across the wool sector. Although these two strategies are inextricably linked, we need government support to implement some of our wider goals.
For now, The Campaign for Wool wants farmers to read and absorb its current strategy and share it with others. “We’d really love farmers to join us!” says Tom. “Walk the talk by buying and promoting wool wherever possible. Share our social media posts or talk to your local school about getting our Wool in Schools roadshow to visit. We’re ready to make a huge difference and would love your support.”
To view the complete strategy, go to https://nzwool.co.nz/campaign-for-wool-nz-releases-a-new-strategy-to-grow-consumer-demand/
About The Campaign for Wool
The Campaign for Wool is a global initiative that aims to highlight wool as an eco-friendly, comfortable, fashionable and durable fibre, and a preferred alternative to cheaper and more disposable options. With the ongoing support of patron HRH The Prince of Wales, it aims to educate consumers worldwide of wool’s many benefits.
Established in New Zealand in June 2011, the Campaign is focused firmly on increasing the value of wool, from the end consumer all the way back to the farm gate, with a current strategic focus on a number of projects that move the dial. These projects include wool in education, and developing a multi-channel campaign that significantly grows consumer, business and government awareness of wool as a super-fibre.
The Campaign for Wool NZ is generously funded by New Zealand wool growers.