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TRA's Kiwi Codes shown to be enduring, but reveal challenges for brands post-pandemic

Hannah Cooke

Humour and Connection to Nature are the two lead characteristics demonstrating ‘Kiwiness’ according to new research launched today.

The Kiwi Codes research, by leading independent research and insights agency TRA, asked a representative sample of over 4,000 New Zealanders about their attitudes to themselves, businesses, and brands post-pandemic.

In this year’s survey results, Humour and Connection to Nature took out the top two spots with almost 60 per cent of those surveyed claiming they feel very strongly that both attributes speak to them as New Zealanders. 

Now in its third consecutive year, the survey provides a clear insight into Kiwi cultural codes and reflects what New Zealanders have in common as a nation, and what is unique and enduring. 

The six Kiwi Codes – Individuality, Earned Success, Social Equivalence, Outward World View, Connection to Nature and Humour - are characteristics which resonate with New Zealanders in ways that demonstrate a nation’s shared feelings about what is innately Kiwi.

Of the six codes measured, three are an expression of New Zealand’s deep-seated attachment to fairness and the other three to the importance of connection. New Zealanders have high expectations for brands to demonstrate their Kiwiness through these codes and expectations have remained high post-pandemic – with expectations for demonstrating Humour increasing by 3%.

The study also highlighted a significant post-pandemic gap between how well New Zealanders expect brands to demonstrate the codes and how well they judge brands to be demonstrating them. According to the survey, brands are falling short, with the average gap between how well people expect brands to demonstrate Kiwi Codes and how well brands are actually demonstrating them increasing to 22% - an increase of 6% on pre-Covid levels.

Colleen Ryan, Partner, TRA said looking at the quantified data both pre- and post-pandemic, reveals that as a nation, COVID-19 has forced New Zealanders to look at themselves.

“There has been a significant increase in the gap between people’s expectations of brands and how well they rate brands on demonstrating the codes,” Ryan said.

“The gap has grown by a significant amount for Humour and Connection to Nature which we know are codes that resonate strongly with Kiwis, growing 10 % and 8%, pre- and post-Covid respectively.

“However, Social Equivalence is where the largest overall gap is seen, indicating Kiwis want brands to dial up in this space.  “This code has always had a large gap between expectations and performance, but we’ve seen this grow further from -26% pre-Covid to -32% in the current survey,” explained Ryan.

Ryan continued: “Self-reflection and self-awareness are increased when you are isolated, especially when you choose a path that sets you apart from most of the rest of the world. You must believe in who you are and what makes you who you are, to have the confidence and the resilience to forge a different path. That is a uniquely Kiwi path.

“Cultural codes are different from personal or group values or attitudes and are closer to our shared feelings about being a Kiwi.

“Moreover, the codes are universal – with very small differences across demographic groups. We know they are important to Kiwis, but we also know they are important to brands. Through this survey, plus data across the last three years’ surveys, we have been able to see a link between brands demonstrating the codes well to them being associated with Kiwiness. Why does this matter? Because Kiwiness is linked to Brand Love, and Brand Love to product usage,” Ryan explained.

TRA has been monitoring the characteristics that define Kiwiness since 2016. From an early qualitative study to several waves of quantified data, and most recently, a sample of 4,000 New Zealanders giving the company and its clients insight into the Kiwi cultural codes.

“Each of us has a role to play, and TRA’s role is to use the power of our data and insights to further the conversation about what matters to Kiwis and Kiwi Culture by connecting the voice of consumers with the changes brands face post-pandemic,” Ryan concluded.

To read more about the Kiwi Codes, visit TRA’s Mainframe website.

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