Mr Roberts said in commissioning AWI’s three-year strategic plan in 2015, the marketing body looked at global demand trends, and changing values and priorities for consumers globally.
“The results suggest that we are going to see more growth from warmer and more humid climates, rather than cooler climates, for discretionary spent items like meat and clothes,” Mr Roberts said.
“That’s not to say that we’re not going to see growth from our traditional support base of Europe and the United States, we think that’s going to grow as well, we just think we’re going to see more rapid growth in the more humid markets.”
He said examples of these markets include China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
“This is going to force the wool world to look at new processing and product innovations to be able to work in those humid climates, and actually start talking more about moisture and odour management,” he said.
He said while AWI had one simple marketing objective, there was not one overall global approach.
“Our objectives are pretty straight forward, it’s about educating and inspiring designers and brands and retailers on how to use Merino wool and how it can benefit their businesses, and engaging with a wider consumer audience, mainly through using social media,” he said.
“But we don’t really have a global approach, we attack each market in its own way.”
He said India had many wealthy consumers, so AWI’s resources and staff were balanced between innovation and marketing.
“The big challenge there is that it’s a humid market, and they don’t necessarily know wool as a functional, moisture management fibre, so we’re really trying to give it a push in sports like yoga and cricket,” he said.
He said Japan was tricky.
“They are one of the biggest wearers of wool per head in the world, they know wool really well, but our challenge there is dispelling its conservative image,” he said.
“A lot of grey woollen suits have been worn in Japan over the years, and that’s how they perceive it. They think of it as a bit boring, a bit conservative, so we’re trying to work with a few other, more edgy designers, to prove that it can be used for casual wear.”
He said they had probably disappointed women in France.
“Females are the dominant consumer in the French market, so that’s an area that we’re really trying to ramp up. We’re doing some big collaborations in that space,” he said.