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Australian Surfboard Brands Battle Chinese Makers

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 5, 2012 02:40 PM

Made in China surfboards are taking market share from Australia's surfboard brands, according to Bloomberg. Blame undercutting on price by the Chinese manufacturers, along with rising production costs for the Aussies, who are also being slammed by "a strong currency that’s making their products less competitive overseas."

The dilemma, as Bloomberg puts it:

From Bells Beach to Brisbane, Australia’s board builders are facing a choice: close down, or try to preserve local designs and branding by applying them to products made abroad. “We have to adapt,” said Michelle Blauw, co-owner of Currumbin, Queensland-based D’Arcy Surfboards and president of the Australian Surf Craft Industry Association. “You can’t always point the finger and blame everybody else for the situation that you’re in.”

Another solution, beyond local branding and craftsmanship, is to better utilize digital marketing to more deeply engage with surf, board and action sports fans. Case in point: the D'Arcy Surfboards website offers a Japanese version, in addition to riding the social wave with a Facebook page and store, blog, on Google+ and on Twitter.

The Australian Surf Craft industry is also promoting "Made in Australia" labels to battle the cheaper imports and appeal to homegrown pride:

While the sale of board shorts and other surf wear has propelled companies such as California’s Quiksilver Inc. and Australia’s Rip Curl International Pty into global brands, many Aussie board makers haven’t been able to match that growth. To protect Australia’s brand in the global market, Blauw is trying to organize manufacturers and craftsmen to push for mandated country-of-origin labeling so Australian-made boards are distinguishable from imports.

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