The New Zealand Merino Company Limited (NZM) is an integrated sales, marketing, and innovation company focused on transforming the country’s Merino sheep industry.

In 2010, NZM secured a combination of government and private funding to help it further advance its efforts to (1) expand the international market for New Zealand Merino wool, (2) grow New Zealand’s fine wool supply base, and (3) drive greater wealth to the country’s Merino sheep farmers by extending the NZM model to other sheep-based products, such as meat, leather, and lanolin.

To address the first objective of expanding the international market for the country’s fine Merino wool, NZM decided to convene a meeting of its key brand partners to get their input, seek new ideas, and attempt to engage them in working together toward this mutually beneficial goal. Even though they were competitors to varying degrees, the brand partners had all invested heavily (or were planning to do so) in products made from the wool procured through NZM, and they all had a direct interest in seeing demand for these products increase. NZM hoped that they would be willing to think collectively and collaborate for the benefit of all players in the category. However, NZM was unsure how the brand partners would feel about joining forces and the extent to which they could agree on specific messages and activities that would help accelerate the growth of the New Zealand Merino wool sales.

To support a discussion of the issues and opportunities facing NZM and its brand partners, this case provides readers with relevant background information in the following areas:

The Country

The Animal

The Industry

The Company

Products & Partners

Before reading The Challenge, please carefully review the background sections to ensure you understand:

  1. The basic attributes of Merino wool and what differentiates it from other wool fibers
  2. The basic Merino wool supply chain
  3. Factors that make New Zealand economically vulnerable as a country
  4. The key challenges facing the New Zealand wool industry
  5. How the NZM model has helped address these challenges to date
  6. NZM’s goals as outlined as part of the NZSTX program
  7. What ZQ is
  8. The target market segments and customer characteristics of those most likely to respond to ZQ
  9. Basic similarities and differences among NZM’s major brand partners
  10. Basic U.S. consumer perceptions of New Zealand and its products

Next, please read about NZM’s brand partner meeting and come to class prepared to debate the following questions:

  1. What specific goal do you think NZM’s brand partners can/should agree on?
  2. What messages should the group emphasize in its collaborative communication?
  3. What specific tactics should they try for getting these messages out?
  4. Based on the issues and opportunities discussed at the brand partner summit, what path forward would you recommend to NZM?