Marketing curses many innovators

AUSTRALIAN companies are great innovators but poor commercialisers of their ideas according to the results of an Edith Cowan University study.

This poor marketing causes many good ideas to go to large companies or overseas.

The nationwide survey examined the new product development processes in more than 270 small to medium-sized chemical and engineering enterprises.

ECU Small and Medium Enterprise Research Centre’s Alan Brown said a number of those surveyed recognised their market deficiencies but did not address them.

“These are small enterprises. A lot have emerged from a partnership of, say, a couple of engineers. They don’t really have the funds to market and commercialise themselves properly.

“They need the money to fund the launch of their product but need the revenue from the sales of the product to pay for the launch. It’s a real chicken and egg scenario.”

The survey found those companies that had a new product development plan performed much better when they launched their new product.

Professor Brown said marketing training could help those companies but time proved a real problem.

WA-based market developer Zernike Australian chief executive Peter Why said companies should be doing market research before they even made a product.

“Often Australian companies develop products that already exist,” Mr Why said.

“We’ve had two recent examples where products we were testing the marketing potential of were already being made in Europe. They need to find a niche for their product first.”

Mr Why said Australian companies were also faltering for want of networks in overseas markets.

“They should be using strategic alliances into foreign markets – people who can

identify whether their product has market potential.”

Mr Why said Australia’s small markets meant local companies usually had to look overseas. Australia’s isolation also hurts.

“We often lack up-to-date market intelligence,” Mr Why said.

“Furthermore, guys in Europe can cover the whole of that market in three hours by plane. We have to be more intelligent in how we market, and maybe we sometimes think too small.”

Mr Why said the sale of ideas overseas or to larger companies need not be a loss.

“If you are smart about it you can generate some wealth from selling the ideas rather than being bought out,” he said.

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