Devonport – hard to get to, geographically cut off from the rest of Auckland, but incredibly rewarding when you get there.
In a nutshell
- New Zealand is like Devonport of the world. Hard to get to, hard to get into, and the locals feel both very proud and very lucky.
- Our data indicates that New Zealanders who have returned since COVID have different mindsets and our expressions of cultural codes are being hot-housed as a result of our new Devonport status.
- The Kiwi codes that make us unique haven't been changed but the pandemic has served to accelerate the change of our expressions of these codes. As a result of our new Devonport status – the more we are cut off from the world, the more accelerated and definitive they are becoming.
- As marketers, we need to be hyper-local and attuned to the current situation, but also ready to mind the gap when the world opens up.
Devonport has a timeless sense of place and a distinctly local feel. It has its own unique sub-culture and adapts and reflects trends differently from the rest of Auckland – Devonport is a cultural hothouse, if you like. The locals are very proud to live there and feel very lucky to do so.
While once defined by the tyranny of distance, thanks to COVID, New Zealand is the Devonport of the world. Hard to get to, hard to get into, and the locals feel both very proud and very lucky. Our pandemic experience has been completely different from the rest of the world. All of which means New Zealand is a cultural hothouse – growing and evolving differently from how we might have done if our COVID experience hadn’t been what it was.
TRA regularly measures Kiwi’s MindSets; how many of us are progressive vs traditional, or community-minded vs individualistic, for example.
We have ten distinct segments – reflecting how different combinations of these MindSets differentiate New Zealanders from each other. Our ongoing research shows our MindSets have not shifted over the COVID period – and why would they? If you started 2020 a traditionalist, you’re likely starting 2021 the same way. MindSets represent a fundamental state of mind – you wouldn’t expect them to shift. That is one of the reasons our clients use them as springboards for creative targeting – they are psychographically illuminating but also stable and not influenced by category. They are timeless.
An interesting aside though: we know that New Zealanders who have returned since COVID have a different mindset profile from those who are already here. They’ve clearly come back to make their mark. So did they go overseas because they were progressive or did moving overseas make them progressive? Our data indicates the former.
The impact on the codes that makes us Kiwis presents a different picture. Here we see a mix of the timeless but also the impact of COVID hot-housing. The codes that make us unique – our connection to nature, outward world view, belief in social equivalence, sense of self-determination, belief in earned success and sense of humour – we don’t believe have changed. But our expressions of them are being hot-housed as a result of our new Devonport status – the more we are cut off from the world, the more accelerated and definitive they are becoming.
We’ve long known that even in New Zealand, COVID is a great disruptor, a catalyst of creative disruption. While initial behaviour changes are only temporary, the pandemic has served to accelerate trends that were already happening. The changes that will stick are those that were already on a trajectory. This is what is happening to how the Kiwi codes are expressed.
What about those that were already New Zealand specific and on a trajectory?
Our appreciation of nature or taiao is growing as New Zealanders have had more opportunities to enjoy their own background. Our sense of earned success has been validated by our success with COVID. But some codes are increasing in tension – like the rest of the world, COVID has accentuated inequality, so the team of 5 million is rubbing up a distinctly K shaped recovery – where some sectors and people are recovering well, and others are on a downward slide.
What other trends are we seeing accelerate?
A key indicator of our growth as a nation can be seen in the increasing adoption of te reo Māori. Zavy Radar shows us that sentiment around common words such as mahi is growing in the positive direction, even if usage is not growing as much as we might think.
So, our mindsets are timeless, and our codes appear to be largely unchanged. But our expressions are changing and accelerating in line with our hot-housing.
What is the role for brand in all of this?
Well, we may be the Devonport of the world at the moment, but we’re not the Pitcairn Islands – so isolated for decades they started speaking their own dialect of English.
As marketers, we need to be hyper-local and attuned to the current situation, but also ready to mind the gap when the world opens up. Our train is travelling at a different speed from the rest of the world’s right now – but as countries open up, we will collide. The same speed and agility we all applied as the world closed down will need to be applied as we open up.
This article was published in the latest issue of Frame magazine.