Now is the time to globalise

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Unfortunately, COVID has created a sense of slumber for many businesses as they wait for lockdowns to be lifted and the pandemic to wane. This has put a lot of businesses into a holding pattern.

There is a feeling among business owners that because Australia’s international borders are closed to people that our capacity to sell consumer products into other countries is as well, which is ridiculous.

Some of the most significant consumer brands have been born out of innovation during periods of uncertainty. The reality is that now is the time to look to global trade opportunities.

If we look across the world at markets holding significant capacity and scope for growth, particularly for Australian businesses, then China would have to be one of the key targets.

The largest cohort of cashed-up consumers is sitting in China. This body of millennial shoppers is 400 million strong and growing, with 25 per cent having degrees and very little student debt. In fact, they are the first generation in the country to enjoy financial freedom and they have a penchant for luxury and quality brands and products.

The next group of Chinese consumers coming through is even more exciting. Gen Z comprises 15 per cent of the country’s population and is considered the next engine of domestic consumption growth.

Gen Z is optimistic, impulsive and often outspend their budget. Given they have been born with a device in their hand, they are more likely to browse and purchase products on the go.

In fact, China’s Gen Z are more likely to buy products on the go than their peers across the world. They have grown up being part of a booming economy and therefore have an extremely positive view of their potential to earn a lot more money in the future and this mindset drives their buying behaviour.

Constant negative media coverage about the region tends to impact business decision making, particularly when it comes to expansion, investment, partnerships and collaboration.

If we look at China and the nearby regions from an economic and business perspective, several things are happening.

Firstly, China’s market is evolving and modernising allowing greater investment in China from overseas companies and also greater access for China’s people to overseas products.

Secondly, key regions such as the Greater Bay Area, are opening up to become integrated economic and business hubs to facilitate greater trade and investment opportunities. The Greater Bay Area refers to the Chinese government’s plan to link the cities of Hong Kong and Macau with the nine cities of the Pearl River Delta (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing) with transport, communications, 5G and other infrastructure to support growth and economic development.

It comprises an area the size of the island of Tasmania, with a combined GDP of US$1.6 trillion (12 per cent of China’s total GDP), 11 major cities, an economy the size of Canada, is home to 86 million people. It is one of the most open and economically vibrant regions within China, if not the world.

These changes mean there are significant markets of shoppers primed to consume Australian products and services, and businesses ready to enable and facilitate the distribution of products to end-users.

Now is the time to strategise, raise capital and execute bold opportunities for expansion and growth into Asia, particularly China. As the world emerges from the COVID haze, those who have used the time wisely to set themselves up for success will be able to pull the trigger straight away and get moving, rather than fall behind due to lack of foresight and action.