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Opportunities for Australian businesses in New Zealand’s Scarcity Economy

The appropriately named Crowded House outdoor concert recently sparked headlines, social chatter, and envy around the world. A welcome sign of ‘normal’ as Europe heads into a third wave of lockdowns, despite the vaccine release. NZ is benefitting as a Covid-Free brand, and a safe place to move around within the (mostly) closed borders. But there are costs to isolation, once you dig around in the detail of the economy.

The last Auckland lockdown pretty much drained the reservoir of ‘Team of 5 Million’ tolerance, especially in the business community. Many in CBD services such as hospitality say they won’t make it through another lockdown, with massive across-the-board political pressure on the vaccine rollout and opening the borders to Australian travel.

The NZ tourism industry is hurting badly, as the burst of internal summer holidays didn’t make up for the lack of overseas visitors, who can be charged higher prices than the locals. An added twist being the traditional migration of Kiwis to northern Australia to escape the cold winter. They’re now holding on to their purse strings, or spending it on their home instead.

Home-reno trades and the general construction industry are booming, allied to an extremely inflationary, high demand housing market. But the catch is ever-increasing shortages of both skilled and unskilled labour, and imported materials across many sectors. What does make it into the country is becoming more expensive, with time delays also adding to costs. Kiwis are no longer able to buy a wide range of everyday items, with garden pots as just one anecdotal example.

At the same time independent, economics commentator *Tony Alexander is observing an easing in spending  in a number of areas including domestic travel, investing, and larger-priced items. He also says lending institutions are holding to their money, making it harder to get business financing.


So what opportunities are there for Australian businesses in New Zealand’s Scarcity Economy?

In this situation people will pursue ways to make-do with alternatives. They are looking for the knowledge and skills to Recondition, Recycle, Restore, Reinvent, Retrain, Renew – all the RE-words! How can we work smarter, and do more with less staff, time, and resources?

This is not only about helping people go online which is currently the simplistic default response, but how to give businesses the techniques to adapt and produce goods & services out of their local resources.

Over time, as the trans-Tasman bubble evolves, you will be able to market physical supplies as well, but in the meantime exporting skills is a place to start. As is forming alliances with compatible Kiwi businesses in your sector with the aim of sharing knowledge in preparation for a future Australasian and South Pacific market.

A second line of bubble-thought, is helping Australians move to NZ to fill the labour shortage. Combining HR/recruitment capability with an updated knowledge of NZ immigration rules is an opportunity to pave the way for people wanting a fresh start in smaller, more family-friendly environments. Which was already a pre-pandemic trend, that could have a new relevance.

*Tony Alexander Business Survey highlights  http://tonyalexander.nz/resources/Tony’s%20View%20Business%20Survey%20February%202021.pdf

Judy Celmins is a small business innovation specialist. You can start your innovation journey with her free training. Head to thriveablebiz.com for details.


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