It’s official – our behaviour has changed!

Some of the lockdown impacts are obvious: three quarters of us travel less than we did a year ago, half are STILL working from home… or remotely more often than not, and two thirds of us are spending more time with our families. Whether we wanted to change our behaviour to this extent, or not, will eventually come out.
That said, reported behaviour change in other areas of our lives does provide strong indicators of semi-permanent shifts in both what we buy and how we buy. There are also positive shifts in wellbeing indicators for big chunks of the population, despite an increase in reported stress.
Conversations around alcohol consumption have peaked in line with mandated behaviours associated with lockdowns.

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Destination perceptions

Front of mind perceptions of locations are critical for destination marketing. These show what the potential domestic market believe a location to offer or represent, and can be different from what those in charge of the destination brand say it can deliver.
Front of mind destination perceptions are built from first hand visits and experience but also come from reputation, word of mouth and increasingly, what can be found on social media channels.

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Engagement in recreation activities is down.

In June 2020 New Zealand moved back to Alert Level 1 following the first major lockdown. At that point we tested which outdoor recreational activities people were keen to be involved in. Asking the same question two years later shows the impact that first restriction on our freedoms had on positive intentions and outdoor engagement. Interest overall is down, and there has been a significant drop in the numbers intending to do short walks and day hikes, bird and wildlife watching, freshwater fishing, freshwater boating, diving/snorkelling and four-wheel driving.
Noting that we are comparing a summer measure to a winter measure, there are also drops in our intentions to spend on paid activities and attractions when compared with January 2021. This is unsurprising given the economic pinch and talk of tougher times ahead, combined with that downturn in recreation engagement.
When comparing similar products within activity and attraction types, the main drivers of choice are still price/value for money, reputation and recommendations from family and friends. Sustainability reasons have seen a significant increase in influence in the last two years.

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What is driving perceptions of local government?

This July survey point continues our trend analysis into what is driving perceptions and satisfaction levels for councils across the country.
With many councils adopting annual plans in recent weeks, rates increases have been confirmed and have not gone down well. Our results show the biggest increase in the proportions believing the value for money they receive from their council has got worse over the last year, with roughly half of all residents holding this view.
The most discussed issue though has been the Christchurch stadium. With the majority of the population supporting the project, there was a notable push-back against the way in which the build has been relitigated and brought back for consultation.
Discussion around local body elections has begun to heat up but haven’t yet broken through as top issues for residents, with the exception of Auckland. Three Waters is a consistent issue across all regions, most discussion on social media is opposed to the plan.
The information presented here provides a holistic view of public perceptions by combining data from a nationally representative sample of New Zealanders with social media trend analysis.

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Public perceptions of gene editing

One of the biggest changes on the horizon for NZ food production is gene editing (CRISPR, or ‘advanced breeding’). It is a given that conversation needs to be happening in this space, but a big question is who should lead it? In recent years, there has been an increase in genetically modified (GM) crops and the products derived from them. This has been accompanied by market concerns over safety and vocal opposition by activists. Brands are therefore going to be careful in approaching gene editing conversations; it is likely that any controversy will quickly be attached to the forerunner brands.
Research First has extensive experience in designing and delivering insight studies within the rural sector, this often incorporates public perception components. Curiosity got the better of us on this one; with none of our primary sector clients commissioning the study, we decided to do it anyway!
Our survey provides some first insights to indicate what the consumer wants from its food producers. The study was conducted with a statistically robust, nationally representative sample of New Zealanders.

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