In many ways, Australia’s partnership marketing landscape is as unique as the country itself. The affiliate channel continues to evolve in the Australian market, with advertisers taking notice of the significant value it can provide. The channel is becoming a fixture in the marketing mix, with new resources such as dedicated partnership managers and increased budget allocations becoming the norm. This comes as no surprise, considering the outstanding return on ad spend (ROAS) that the channel delivers.
Interestingly, in 2018 the IAB Affiliate Marketing Industry reported that two-thirds of Australian organizations had been using affiliate marketing for three years or less. This highlights both the infancy and growth potential of the Australian market when it comes to affiliate marketing. Comparatively, the US and UK affiliate markets have tried and tested affiliate programs and the channel already accounts for a significant percentage of online sales.
Even though this is a burgeoning channel in Australia, we are seeing more innovative partnerships develop in the region such as the recent partnership between THE ICONIC and Ticketek.
Here are some of the key differences that set Australia apart from global markets when it comes to partnerships.
The Australian Partnership Market is Finding its Identity
Compared to other markets, the Australian market still has a lot of room to grow when it comes to partnerships. The US & UK particularly have developed thriving affiliate economies over the last 20 years.
In Australia, many brands are still testing the water with their partner mix. The partnership ecosystem has evolved dramatically since influencers and social media were thrown into the mix. This can leave brands searching for clarity on where they will get the best ROI when comparing it to more traditional forms of partnership like affiliate marketing or other channels.
Additionally, ecommerce in Australia is still growing and partners themselves play an important role in educating the Australian market. An example of this would be ShopBack using influencers to create greater awareness upon their entrance into the Australian market. This has not only benefited their brand but also helped Australian consumers gain a better understanding of cashback in general.
Openness to the Possibilities of Partnership
It could also be argued that the infancy of the Australian market has allowed brands to break the mold and be more innovative when it comes to partnership possibilities. Without many historic rules and examples to go off, we are seeing brands explore savvier and more strategic opportunities in the partnership space.
A great example of this would be the partnership between SurfStich and Hawaiian Airlines. While surf-style fashion and flights to Hawaii may seem like an obvious partnership, the brands have been able to capitalize on opportunity through a performance partnership which facilitated customer acquisition and database sharing.
A partnership as such has set the tone for other businesses to find synergies between their brand and others in the market (obvious ones and those outside of the box) as a way of growing presence and acquiring customers you may have not had access to before.
The Online vs Offline Ratio is Shifting
Another differentiator of the Australian partnership landscape vs. other markets is the value of online sales. In 2018, Australians spent $27.5 billion buying goods online, which made up only 10% of overall retail spend for that year. However, that represents a 24.4% year-over-year increase in goods bought online. This highlights the appetite of Australian consumers for the online shopping experience. For Australian brands or international brands looking to enter this market, it would be beneficial to ensure you have the right infrastructure in place to meet the increasing demands of Australian consumers.
Partnership technologies will play an important role in providing transparency and tracking of partnerships as we experience the further growth of online sales.
Partnerships to Grow Regional Footprint
Emerging Australian brands or international brands looking to make their mark on this unique market should consider partnerships in order to strengthen their presence in the region. We have seen this scenario with meal kit providers partnering with wine subscriptions and gym wear giants partnering with Australian sports clubs. International brands realize how beneficial it can be to enter partnerships with other well-aligned brands and businesses in order to increase market awareness and acquire new customers.
While this region can sometimes seem like a bubble, it has proven that Australia is very much open to international players provided that they are adding value and variety. Such partnership examples demonstrate that collaboration can not only benefit the brands themselves but add value to their respective customer bases.
As we see brands investing more into the partnerships channel in Australia, partners will continue to flourish, benefitting the channel as a whole. This investment drives growth and challenges the misconceptions of limited partner opportunities in the region.
The key takeaway is to be prepared for the ongoing and rapid shift we are seeing in consumer behavior and the partnerships channel itself. Assess your customer base for alignment with other brands, think outside the box for partnership possibilities, and ensure your business has a strategy in place to meet the enormous growth in online shopping.