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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It gripped the nation for a summer!

Our tracking of Kiwi’s awareness of what’s on down under over the summer just ended reaffirms what we all thought – that the nation’s attention was dominated by the Prada Cup and the America’s Cup. And as Emirates TeamNZ got closer to match point the nation wasn’t just hooked, it was mesmerised. The power of the event to hook a nation was light years above any other. Although, the NZ vs Australia T20 Cricket Series and the White Ferns generated consistent interest in the background.
New Zealand’s media profile around the globe, too, was dominated by the regattas for months on end. The only other events to break into the most discussed stories related to the raising of Alert Levels in Auckland and how that would impact racing.
But how quickly we’ve moved on! Less than two weeks ago champagne corks were flying, and you couldn’t buy ticker tape for love nor money, but our social listening post suggests the halcyon days are all but forgotten!
That said, kiwis are likely to support upcoming major events. Many will travel
for these, adding to bed nights at their destination, albeit in a modest way.

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All eyes on us!

SUN, SEA, SURF… AND SPORT! ALL THE HALLMARKS OF A PERFECT KIWI SUMMER.
Following on from our dive into the importance of sport to New Zealanders late last year, we thought we’d get an update as to how this is playing out over the summer of 2020/21.
If anything, the focus on sport has grown – primarily driven by the reality of hosting the America’s Cup and the Black Caps vs Pakistan series. And with the Northern Hemisphere rugby competition coming to a head, the announcement that France is to host the RWC 2023 and the Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 pre-season hype building, sport has continued to dominate our airwaves, in-boxes and social platforms more than ever.
On social, much of the New Zealand related conversation is being driven out of the UK – perhaps not surprising given the performance of INEOS Team UK and the Brit’s love of cricket.

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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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Travel and Accommodation

Inbound tourism is cautiously optimistic as the borders open, and bookings build. Quoted in Stuff, Tourism Export Council chief executive Lynda Keene says bookings suggest international arrivals might return to 55% to 60% of pre-pandemic levels over the coming spring and summer season[1]. However, with the number of operating tourism proprietors down significantly in the last 12 months and low pay and poor conditions in the tourism and hospitality sectors needing an urgent fix, the domestic tourism market remains critically important.

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[1] https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/the-monitor/128768913/tourism-cautiously-optimistic-as-bookings-build-despite-another-summer-without-the-chinese-visitors-who-once-dominated-overseas-arrivals

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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