The international appeal of New Zealand sheep farming should
not be underestimated, Steven Parsons says.
The Wools of New Zealand market development and innovation
manager told the company's Oamaru meeting that posters
showing idyllic scenes of sheep grazing green pasture
overlooking blue lakes under snowy mountains have an
''emotive pull'' - especially when compared with the
petrochemical origins of nylon carpets.
Mr Parsons, who is stationed at the Wools of New Zealand
Centre of Wool Excellence in Ilkley, Yorkshire, said the
properties of wool have to be emphasised. Consumers are told
about the life cycle of the sheep in New Zealand, how the
wool is scoured, why it is fit-for-purpose, and that it is
whiter and brighter than other wool.
The story of how farmers grow their own product and want to
pass on their farms to the next generation is emphasised:
''They care so much, they bought the company''.
Connecting customers with the real people who produce the
wool and the ability to have consistent, reliable supply are
the most important aspects, Mr Parsons said.
Social responsibility is promoted, too. For example, when a
poster of sheep grazing near the Akaroa harbour is shown, the
public is told how farmers are careful with nutrient run-off
so none enters the water that is home to jellyfish providing
food for the endangered Hector's dolphin.
''Sales skyrocketed when that story broke,'' Mr Parsons said.
''It's a nice fuzzy story, but the bottom line is it makes
Sales also soared when customers were told that the company
gives part of its royalties to the UK Woodland Trust.
New weaves picking up on fashion trends are pitched at the
top end, with a new colour palette and range of patterns.
Examples are stripes of bold hues that are popular in
Britain; textured carpets with the appeal of Aran knitwear
that is enjoying a new surge of interest; subtle, tweedy
checks that reinforce the huge swing to all things British;
and a dramatic lacy pattern that makes an impact with modern
Carpets using the Wools of New Zealand brand Laneve are
''telling our story'' in their merchandising, Mr Parsons
said. By entering a special code online after buying the
carpet, the customer can see which farm the wool was grown
''We put a buzz around it, create stories.''
The word can be spread economically through digital media, he
said. People can also learn about wool that way. A third of
people who go online to research wool carpets' benefits have
asthma. They are told that wool absorbs toxins from the air