The ‘new’ Zealander

The ‘new’ Zealander

How New Zealand’s changing societal structure will influence brands and retail

It’s been a tough twelve months for Kiwis as the cost-of-living crisis continues and we now navigate the growing pains of recession. But other surrounding societal forces beyond economic challenges are influencing growth and must factor into shaping and planning marketing and growth strategies as the evolving make-up of our population is ripe to influence the direction of brands and retailers.

Renowned sociologist and emeritus professor at Massey University Paul Spoonley says that “A very different New Zealand in terms of the demographic profile and ethnicity of communities will have emerged by the early 2030s.”[1] With this in mind, the way people interact with retail brands will also continue to evolve in New Zealand against the backdrop of ongoing disruption and societal shifts.

Our changing societal dynamic ranges from the rise of single person households to the rapid growth of the Māori population and high net migration (most notably from Asia). New Zealand is also ageing, driven by falling fertility rates and increased longevity. But the country also witnessed its largest-ever population increase in the year to December 2023 – the largest since the data series started in 1991 – with migration accounting for the majority.[2] A recent study also found that younger New Zealanders are pessimistic about the future, while those over 52 remain more confident and resilient as they spend on discretionary and health-related goods and services, travel and leisure.[3]

Kiwis also have a renewed post-pandemic appreciation for social connection and getting out into the world but at the same time, one of our most significant societal shifts is towards conversation around mental health as working from home and remotely remains commonplace. But as the cost-of-living continues to bite, managing mental health is becoming more challenging. For example, many small business operators are struggling with stress and anxiety because they can’t afford to pay themselves due to cashflow challenges[4] while two in five Gen Z’s say that concern for their mental health “contribute a lot to their feelings of anxiety or stress”.[5] Brands that can adequately and appropriately address and support mental health will go a long way to connecting with all Kiwis.

Overall, all these changing social dynamics have a significant impact on consumer behaviours and in turn purchasing decisions so need to be constantly reviewed and considered. And as Kiwis seek more personalised messaging and products that address their wellbeing, need for value, and life situation; it’s important to think about how to incorporate this into both innovation and NPD plans, pricing and communications strategies – now and into the future.

This is an excerpt from the outlook report Breaking New Ground. Download the full version here

[1] P Spoonley, NZ will soon have to deal with population stagnation or decline, Newsroom, 13 February 2024, accessed 23 April 2024

[2] V Molyneux, C Knox, Migration drives New Zealand’s largest ever population increase to 5,305,600, The New Zealand Herald, 6 February 2024, accessed 23 April 2024

[3] The New Zealand Consumer Sentiment # 3, BCG, accessed 23 April 2024

[4] Media release, Nearly half of Kiwi small business owners aren’t paying themselves, Xero, 12 July 2023, accessed 1 December 2023

[5] Deloitte, 2023 Gen Z and Millennial Survey, accessed 27 February 2024

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