WOOL marketing needs an ‘asymmetrical warfare’ approach — targeted promotion on several fronts — not the failed generic fashion-based programs of Australian Wool Innovation.
For 50 years, wool levies have been thrown at the fashion catwalks of the Europe, trying to maintain textile market share.
Even recently, with the aspirational Gold Woolmark prize, millions have been poured into enticing designers to use wool in their garments. It is clear that this strategy is failing, for trying to make wool fashionable is the very reason for its demise.
Fashion comes and goes, and with world attention drawn to our welfare surgery practices, wools elegance and beauty is losing its lustre to major public animal rights campaigns. Anyone who says otherwise is clearly out of touch with the market.
For the past 10 years, industry leaders have simply hoped that these welfare issues would go away if we ignored them. This Kodak-like strategy has seen the majority of the textile world shake its head in wonder at Australian wool’s self-destructive approach, in a new age of social media and huge consumer engagement into how products are produced.
While its currently easy to blame wool’s demise on the COVID-19 pandemic, other products are booming, and this is where wool must now look for its successful future.
Red meat sales for instance, are brilliant, with lamb and beef holding up the livestock sector and injecting real long-term hope into these farming markets. And it is here the answer can be found to wool’s resurgence as the most useful and beneficial fibre on the plant for human beings.
Red meat’s success is based on one essential fact, even with their issues of unfair welfare attacks by animal rights groups. Meat & Livestock Australia to its credit, has made red meat an ‘essential’ part of consumer existence, and the science behind their marketing is world-class. Infant brain development, muscle and physical development for teenagers, to excellent protein/iron/amino acid sources for women and men, have all led to consumers’ understanding the incredible value of red meat in their lives. This is something that animal rights groups cannot touch, try as they may.
And here is the same space that wool can follow; to be an “essential” part of human existence, with an entirely honest proposition backed by some amazing science, previously conducted by the tireless and hard-working AWI research teams. It has real messages for humans that will resonate with them, seeing consumer-led wool demand occur across wealthy nations.
Wool is essential for wholesome sleep. It’s a fact.
Wool is a pure and organic 50 percent carbon sink. It’s fact.
Wool is 100pc naturally biodegradable. It’s a fact.
Wool is grown from cellulose (grass) that doesn’t compete with mankind’s needs. It’s a fact.
If a consumer choses wool, its healthy for the planet, more so, it’s absolutely essential to buy wool if you want to see less pollution and reduce emissions.
And further, there is an entire value chain set up to promote this to the world, nothing else needs to be done. From our selling systems, to our wonderful top maker customers in EU and China, to spinners and weavers set up around the world, all is in place for a dynamic explosion of wool demand. All we have to be is asymmetrical in our thoughts and actions.
Charles ( Chick ) Olsson. BEcon. ACC. MAICD
Australian Wool Growers Association director