Australia: a natural-born pioneer for ‘glocalisation’
18 Feb 2020
- AIBS 2019
- International Trade
- Visitor Economy
"Operating among Australia’s digitally-savvy multicultural communities,
businesses are in a unique position to engage with the world”
Sociologists describe the word 'glocalisation', as showing global and local
tendencies at the same timei. It is a term that is increasingly relevant to Australia’s internationally
Many Australian businesses have products and services that are popular
amongst Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD)
There is now evidence that Australia’s CALD communities support
international market development for Australian goods and services.
Two key factors influence this trend.
First - and this is an area of comparative advantage for Australia - 49% of
the Australian population has one parent born overseas1. So our CALD communities (with international social networks) have scale
as a share of our population.
- Secondly, digitisation has enabled seamless connectivity between
individuals, businesses and international markets, with mobile and digital
devices now supporting real-time purchase, payment, logistics and
These two factors have transformed international trade for selected
businesses, encouraging them to consider local and global markets
Australian glocalisation - local communities and international market
Over the last decade the role of CALD communities in promoting Australian
trade with the world has been explored by
policy advisors and bureaucrats - but what has been missing in all this, is the perspective
What do businesses themselves think about the role of multicultural
communities in international market development?
Our most recent edition of
Australia’s International Business Survey (AIBS)
shows that 28% of all surveyed firms regard Australia’s multicultural
as ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ for international market development. A
further 21% recognised they were somewhat important.
In all, around half of the 600 surveyed AIBS 2019 firms
reported multicultural communities to be important for international
What this indicates, is that international market development is no longer
solely undertaken overseas.
Rather, in many cases international market development is also influenced
by local communities that consume Australian products and services.
Socially-networked pathways for goods trade
The AIBS survey asked specific questions about the type of influence communities have on the promotion or sale of
Australian goods and services.
The survey confirms that firms are working with local intermediaries with
specific language and/or cultural skills to export goods overseas.
One quarter of all the goods exporters we surveyed agree goods sold to
multicultural communities in the domestic market helps to fulfil export
This finding is statistically significant for goods exporters making
their highest revenues in China, with 44% of such surveyed firms agreeing
that goods sold domestically to multicultural communities fulfils export
A specific example is Australia Post’s business assisting
Chinese-Australian community members in Australia to ship Australian retail
products to their families, friends and clients in China. Australia Post
now offers over 150 products in its stores in Eastwood in NSW, and
Melbourne and Box Hill in Victoria. It offers a larger range on its online
store chinadirect.auspost. The online stores provide authentic
consumer products, the convenience of shopping from home, no GST, and a
range of destination choices including Mainland China, Taiwan, HK and
Australia Post’s China Direct stores also allow Australian merchants to
test innovative brands with Asian-Australian audiences - a specific example
of glocalisation informing international market development.
A reliable and loyal overseas network supporting services trade
Similarly, services exporters agreeiv
that domestic consumption of services by multicultural communities helps to
promote their service to overseas consumers.
Thirty-eight percent of services exporters surveyed ‘agree completely’ that
local multicultural consumption of services (for example, tourism,
education or financial services) is an essential element for promotion of
their service overseas.
Take tourism, for example. A large share of the rise in visitors to
Australia over the past decade (from 5.1 million short-term visitors in
2008-09 to 8.6 million in 2018-19) is due to people wanting to visit their
friends and relatives. VFR (i.e. those Visiting Friends and Relatives accounted for 33% of the rise in
visitors over the past decade.v
VFR visitors are loyal, with 25% visiting Australia between 8 and 20 times.
Just as in our own personal lives, these friends and relatives can be
relied upon to help Australian tourism through tough times.
- In the 5 years after the global financial crisis (between 2007-08 to
2012-13) holiday visitor growth stagnated, growing by just 3%, while VFR
Key markets for VFR tourism include New Zealand, China, United Kingdom,
India, Malaysia and Singapore.
Australia’s Asian middle class is in touch with Asia’s rising middle
The AIBS Survey responses indicate businesses making their highest export
revenues in Asia are most likely to engage in Australian-style
The AIBS survey showed a significant share – between 28 to 40 percent - of
firms making their highest revenues in ASEAN, Hong Kong, China, Japan and
India report that multicultural communities are essential or very important
to international market development.
The results suggest that local Asian communities, with their established
international networks, direct channels, language and cultural skills
assist Australian firms through active trade intermediation, goods/services
recommendations, or by acting as a pull factor.
The combination of digitally-and culturally savvy CALD communities, puts
Australian businesses in a unique position to market into Asia.
2016 ABS Census of Population and Housing
The term’s origins are Japanese, but it was defined by sociologist
Roland Robertson in 1997.
ii Here, the term ‘multicultural’ is used interchangeably with the
term ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’.
Agree completely (11%) and somewhat agree (14%)
Agree completely (20%) and somewhat agree (18%)
We note that the Australian friend or relative of a VFR visitor is
not necessarily always from Australia’s CALD communities.