Industry Updates

The Great Wall dividing Chinese- and Australian-made products

26 Jan 2017

In the lead-up to Australia Day, the latest Roy Morgan Research findings reveal that Australian-made products are still tops for Aussie consumers—89% of whom say they’re more likely to buy a product if it’s made here. In contrast, despite the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement making imported Chinese goods cheaper for shoppers, only 30% of us report being more likely to buy items manufactured in China (compared with 48% of us being less likely to buy them).

The importance consumers place on country of origin is most striking for food: 89% of Australians are more likely to purchase locally grown/processed food, compared with just 5% who’d buy food originating in China. Chinese wine is similarly unpopular: only 3% say they’d be more likely to buy wine if it came from China, while 73% are more likely to buy wine if it’s Australian.

Australian-made clothes, electrical goods, sporting goods are also heavily favoured, while motor vehicles manufactured by our dwindling automotive industry are still preferred by more than half the population, compared with the 9% who say they’d be more likely to buy a car if it was built in China—not good news for makes such as Great Wall and Foton, currently trying to crack the local market…

% of population more likely to buy products made in Australia vs products made in China

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Aust), October 2015-September 2016, n=14,416. Base: Australians 14+

Concern about country of manufacture varies somewhat between age groups, with teenagers aged between 14 and 17 showing the most divergence from the average: 37% are open to Chinese-made products overall, while 82% say they’re more likely to purchase those made in Australia. This slightly elevated inclination to buy Chinese can be seen across the specific product categories too.

While this doesn’t mean Aussie teens would choose products made in China over those manufactured in Australia (higher proportions of them still say they’d be more likely to buy goods from each category if they were made here), it certainly indicates a more global outlook to consumption—hardly surprising, given that this group has grown up with online shopping: the ultimate international marketplace.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The latest data from Roy Morgan confirms that almost nine in every 10 Australians are more likely to buy a product if it’s manufactured in Australia, with Australian-produced food being especially sought after. With a new country-of-origin food labelling system currently being rolled out across the nation, it will be much easier for Aussie consumers to stick with home-grown comestibles should they so desire.

“As mentioned earlier, a consumer’s age has some bearing on their interest in a product’s country of manufacture, but only the youngest bracket shows any noteworthy variation from the population average. Among the 50+ age group is almost bang on average, with 90% saying they’d be more likely to buy a product if it was manufactured in Australia, and 29% reporting they’d be more likely to buy goods made in China.

“But if we look at the corollary—the likelihood of a product’s country of manufacture actually putting potential buyers off—a more dramatic picture emerges. Some 48% of the population are less likely to purchase goods they know are Chinese-made, a reluctance that’s even more widespread among 50-64 year olds (50%) and, less predictably, 18-24 year olds (53%).

“Make no mistake, this is a complex issue, influenced by many more factors than those covered here. Obviously, ethnic background plays a part: an above-average proportion of Chinese-born Aussies are, not surprisingly, more likely to buy Chinese-made goods—but at 39%, even they aren’t passionate advocates for their birth country’s manufacturing industry. Political persuasion can also be relevant: at least in the case of One Nation voters, 97% of whom are more likely to buy Aussie-made products.

“Brands and manufacturers keen to ensure their country of origin works for them rather than against them would benefit from the in-depth, multi-faceted consumer insights that only Roy Morgan Single Source data can provide…”

View this release on our website, where you can also download the PDF.

Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.

Samantha Wilson 

P: (03) 9224 5268