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Wave Five: Expectations And Dreams

Wave Five: Expectations And Dreams

November 2000

In this fifth and final wave of Currents of Thought research we set out to discover:

our beliefs What makes us tick

our expectations of life What we think the future holds for New Zealand

our attitudes to business What we think of New Zealand’s corporates

This report covers each of these points, and presents them in three sections: different attitudes, attitudes towards business and implications for the future.


Questions for the Quantitative Study were initially derived from respondents’ comments and perceptions during the initial Qualitative Phase, which was conducted using focus groups in Auckland, Wellington and Alexandra.

Questions were placed in Sfour – a CM Research self completion lifestyle and opinion diary questionnaire – completed by 4000 respondents in all.

The Sfour diary was in field from March to August 2000

Fieldwork for New Zealanders’ attitudes to business was conducted in mid 1999.


We’ve found New Zealand is fragmenting. The pressures of change and the possibilities of the future are creating distinctive and different groups of New Zealanders characterised essentially by whether they are outward or inward looking, whether they are of new or old New Zealand.

We’ve called new Kiwis the Global Citizens. They comprise nearly one in five New Zealanders. As a group they’re mainly younger, educated, open minded and positively responsive to change. They’re connected to the internet and each other through cell phones and PCs and they’re into technology.

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But there’s a flip side. The very factors that set them apart may also set them apart from New Zealand. Global Citizens are prime candidates for the ‘brain drain’. Their energy and skills are being exported.

It’s not the case with Provincial Hermits. Inward looking, older, resistant to change and generally less well-to-do, they are risk-averse and pessimistic. The Provincial Hermits are old New Zealand. They don’t like the way things are going.

Middle New Zealand forms another, more familiar, group. Heartland Kiwis, they are family and people-oriented. Slightly pessimistic liberal thinkers, they’re pre-occupied with raising kids. But they are closer to the Global Citizens than to the Provincial Hermits.

Recognisable groups, but with contemporary issues arising from them.

The first is the brain drain. New Zealand has always exported people, and in the past they’ve returned. But today’s Global Citizens face new pressures and influences. With contemporary emphasis on the global economy, will our best and brightest bother to come back? And what for? The flight of head offices, first to Auckland and thence to Sydney and other locations, may suggest they may not.

And will the traditional pull of our environment and a place to educate and raise our children be sufficient in the future to overcome pressures exerted by other factors, such as growing student debt and New Zealand’s lacklustre economic performance? Currents of Thought Wave Three indicated that while New Zealand rates poorly in terms of business and opportunities, the advantages this country offers are significant in retaining and attracting back skill and talent. But for how long? Particularly as the trend shows in Wave Five that our Global Citizens are on the rise.

The challenge for government and industry will be to enhance New Zealand as a place to live - by retaining the environment and the family lifestyle, and at the same time building the technology infrastructure so that in this globalised world New Zealand becomes a viable place from which to do business.

The second set of problems revolves around the potential for social dislocation arising from the impact of the pace of change. Telecommunications and other technologies are having an increasing influence on our lives. But can the Provincial Hermits, and the older Middle New Zealanders, keep up? If not, will they be able to participate fully in the New Zealand of tomorrow? Government and private sector policies will need to address the potential for social disenfranchisement. Closing the technology gap will become one of our biggest issues for the future.

Our review of attitudes toward businesses suggests that we like those that resemble Middle New Zealand – those which are reliable, caring, community-oriented and innovative earn our support. Quality products and service are rated the most important criteria for New Zealanders. (Note: Interestingly, Wave Three of Currents of Thought showed that Kiwis, rather than complain about poor service, tend to tell others or simply refrain from using that service again)

We also like “good” employers who take a real interest in their employees. This also raises issues: with high achieving women, an older workforce profile, fewer “career” jobs and new demands for workplace flexibility, employers will have to look at how they structure the employment relationship.

But the key message for business seems to be: think global, act local. Second only to quality products and service, the mostly highly rated attribute of a “good business” was community involvement. Not token involvement, but genuine participation at different levels. We admire companies for “going for it” internationally, but we also want them to be part of where we live. And the clear implication for business is; clothe your brand in the communities in which you operate.

CM Research/Porter Novelli
Currents of Thought
Wave Five

The Details

Section One
Different attitudes, different future

CM Research/Porter Novelli’s Currents of Thought survey showed that New Zealanders range across a continuum with, at one end, the internationally-connected merchants of change we call Global Citizens, and at the other the more inwardly-focused, static Provincial Hermit. We’ve called those of us in the middle Middle New Zealanders.

1. The rise of the Global Citizen?

Since 1998 there has been a significant rise in the number of Global Citizens, lifting from one in eight of the population in 1998 to one in five in 2000.

Their main characteristics are:

 A Global Citizen is “connected”. The Internet is a central element of life as a Global Citizen. It helps them be a part of the world. And the excitement of that world is what turns them on.

 Travelling or living overseas and having lots of new and different experiences are the lifeblood of the Global Citizen.

 Global Citizens take control of their own lives; they like to do what they want to do.

 They put a lot of effort into being successful at work.

 And they value strong personal relationships highly.

 But above all else they thrive on change, and they are optimists.

Their key demographics are:

 Urban, with Auckland the centre of the Global Citizen culture in New Zealand.

 Generally young or youth-oriented. Most are between 18 and 24 years and many live in flats. But Global Citizenry isn’t confined to post-teens. Over a quarter of Global Citizens are over the age of 35 – many comprising families with adult children.

 European.

 Well-off, as 51% of Global Citizens earn more than $50,000 a year.

Provincial Hermits:

Provincial Hermits are a complete contrast.

Their key characteristics are:

 A more inward focus, with little interest in travelling or living overseas.

 While they still think it’s important to take control of their own lives and do what they want to do, a successful career is not their top priority.

 They’re change averse and prefer to live in their comfort zones.

 Pessimistic about the future.

Their demographics are:

 They live in rural areas or small towns (for example, they are more likely to live in Whangarei than the other segments).

 The majority are older (65 plus) and are more than ten times as likely to be Provincial Hermits than to be Global Citizens.

 However, 26% of them are under the age of 34 and a small number still live at home with their parents.

 30% of Provincial Hermits are on low household incomes (less than $35,000).

Middle New Zealand:

Middle New Zealand represents the fulcrum between the Provincial Hermits and the Global Citizens.

Their characteristics are:

 Generally content with life.

 But slightly pessimistic.

 They like to travel.

 Being part of a connected world is a priority.

 Middle New Zealanders believe it’s important to take control of their own lives and do what they want to do.

 They put a high priority on friends and people that matter most to them.

 Generally, they remain within their comfort zones and believe in doing the things they’ve always done.
Their key demographics are:

 They are likely to be between 25 to 39 years of age.

 Families with pre-school and school aged children.

Global Citizen – Provincial Hermit Continuum

2. Attitudes toward New Zealand society

Global Citizens:

 Are culturally aware.

 More open in their attitudes towards others.

 Almost twice as likely as Provincial Hermits to agree that Maori culture is an important aspect of the spirit of New Zealand and are slightly more likely than the average Kiwi to support Maori land claims.

 Less likely to think New Zealand has any real cultural problems.

 66% believe that increasing Asian trade is changing our culture and society.

 Global Citizens are more accepting of gays and lesbians and are more likely to support the use of marijuana.

 They are also more concerned than most about the environment, with 65% agreeing New Zealand has not done enough to protect the environment.

 While they are slightly more likely to be proud of New Zealand they are twice as likely to find the country boring.

Middle New Zealanders:

 Are most likely to think New Zealand has cultural problems (75% compared to the average of 72%), but half of them believe Maori culture is important to the spirit of New Zealand.

 They are also fairly liberal in their views in other areas, with nearly half thinking gay and lesbian couples should have the same rights as others.

 Around a fifth support the use of marijuana.

 A fifth of them believe MMP is good for New Zealand.

 But 54% say big business does not have New Zealand’s interests at heart.

Provincial Hermits:

 Provincial Hermits are less positive about the state of the nation.

 While they are just as proud to be Kiwis, they are more likely than other groups to believe New Zealand has a violent society.

 They also feel more strongly that there is not enough emphasis on academic achievement.

 They believe government is “out-of-touch” with common New Zealanders.

 They also have more of a welfare attitude, having a stronger belief than most that it is New Zealand’s duty to support the unemployed.

 Provincial Hermits feel disenfranchised with modern society, with 57% saying they can’t keep up with technology.

 Provincial Hermits are also fairly cynical about corporate New Zealand, with 59% of them feeling that big business does not have New Zealand’s interests at heart.

 Provincial Hermits are more likely (64%) than Global Citizens (47%) to think New Zealand is not as good as it used to be.

 And about half (43%) believe that New Zealand has done enough to protect the environment.

3. Their Own Lives

Global Citizens:

 Global citizens are generally more positive about their lives.

 They are more likely to be optimistic about the future, feel more in control and feel better off financially.

 They are also more likely to think things will improve for them in the next 12 months. While the majority of those in the middle are optimistic about the future (65%), more than half (53%) think things will improve in the next 12 months and just over a third (41%) feel they are better off financially.

 However a sizeable number, 37%, are still concerned about the future.

Provincial Hermits:

 Provincial Hermits are less optimistic. They are worried about the future.

 Only a third thought things would improve and just 38% thought they were better off financially than they were 12 months ago.

 Perhaps because they are in difficult financial situations themselves they are less likely to feel worried about others who are worse off than them.

4. Family Values versus Career

Global Citizens:

 Most New Zealanders (64%) think their family is more important than their careers, while 61% of Global Citizens feel the same way.

 Global Citizens are also more likely to say their family is not a typical New Zealand nuclear family comprising ‘Mum, Dad and the kids’.

 Global Citizens are less likely to say:
– Having a happy family is harder than it used to be
– The quality of New Zealand families is declining
– It’s difficult to combine family life with a job or career

Middle New Zealanders:

 Place a higher priority on family than career (66%).

 Approximately half say it is harder to have a happy family now than it used to be.

 50% find it difficult to combine family life with a job or career.

Provincial Hermits:

 Provincial Hermits on the other hand are more likely to agree that;
– Having a happy family is harder than it used to be
– The quality of New Zealand families is declining
– It’s difficult to combine family life with a job or career

5. Friends, Peers and Social Life

Having an active social life is a defining feature of a Global Citizen’s lifestyle. Sixty two percent have a busy social life compared to Provincial Hermits (15%).

Total Pop.
(%) Provincial Hermits (%) Middle New Zealanders (%) Global Citizens (%)
They like to be with a crowd 25 15 24 42
Friends are more important than family 7 5 6 11
Enjoy going out with drinking buddies 27 24 26 44
Think its better to have one or two close friends than lots of acquaintances 70 71 71 68
Socialise more now than they did 12 months ago 22 14 23 37
Prefer socialising in small crowds 67 72 70 62

6. Eating Habits

Global Citizens:

 Global Citizens are adventurous in their eating habits. They sample international cuisine and dine out.

 More than half think fast food is unhealthy, but 42% of them just can’t resist it.

 Global Citizens are slightly more health conscious than others. They are more likely to have been asked to watch what they eat. They are also more likely to buy freshly made foods, eat more fresh fruit and vegetarian meals and check food ingredients before buying a new product.

Middle New Zealand:

 Middle New Zealanders are a little conservative in their tastes – nearly half check the ingredients on a new product.

 More than half (52%) think foods should be additive free.

 But they also enjoy dining out (76%).

Provincial Hermits:

 Their tastes are definitely more conservative.

 Provincial Hermits are only half as likely as most to enjoy trying international foods and new types of food.

 They are less inclined to criticise fast food as unhealthy, but only 19% are keen on junk food.

 Nor are they big consumers of pre-prepared meals, only 6% saying they buy them.

7. Shopping Habits

Global Citizens:

 Global Citizens are major shopaholics.

 Nearly 65% says they enjoy shopping, and they are more likely than most to enjoy the hustle and bustle of inner city shopping, they love browsing through markets, buying clothes and gifts.

 About half would consider buying products through the internet.

 They also demand quality, putting it ahead of cost when buying.

Middle New Zealanders:

 For Middle New Zealand the shopping mall is king - 46% of them prefer shopping in malls.

 They want value. More than half are likely to compare grocery prices and 31% say they often shop at factory stores.

 Convenience shopping is also a major driver, with 52% of Middle New Zealanders saying they enjoy convenient one-stop shopping.

 A quarter of this group would consider buying over the internet.

Provincial Hermits:

 The shopping habits of Provincial New Zealanders are largely conditioned by their lack of disposable income.

 The Provincial Hermit is also more likely to use coupons wherever possible.

 They don’t like buying clothes or gifts.

 They compare prices when shopping for groceries.

 Provincial Hermits are also most likely to stick to the brands they know well.

 Only 16% would buy over the internet.

8. Attitudes to the Media

New Zealanders on average (78%) tend to stick to their favourite TV programmes. The majority flick between channels during advertisements but only a third would hit the mute button.

British humour tends to appeal to all Kiwis with close to two thirds of Global Citizens enjoying it. While nearly half (44%) of Global Citizens find American humour appealing. Provincial Hermits don’t appear to be fans, with only 26% saying American humour appeals to them.

More Global Citizens (58%) than Middle New Zealanders (53%) and Provincial Hermits (54%) say advertising is necessary and they are also more likely to think advertising is informative (36%), compared to just 33% of Middle New Zealanders and 35% of Provincial Hermits.

Section Two
Attitudes Toward Business

As part of our fifth wave, we took a good look at New Zealanders’ attitudes toward business. This is a key matter for business, and our research points to some specific issues which need to be addressed by business which want to align their operations with the expectations of some of their markets.

It is important to note that, for the purposes of this research, the audience was not defined into the three classifications used earlier in this report.

Companies rated by New Zealanders:

Company Most Admired Score out of 10 (10 is best)
The Warehouse 7.3
Fisher & Paykel 7.0
Air New Zealand 7.0

 The average score for companies was 5.7.

 But the nation’s youth tend to view the business community more positively. This group gave corporates an average rating of 6.0.

 The Warehouse (7.3) was overwhelmingly ranked as the most admired company in New Zealand, closely followed by Fisher & Paykel and Air New Zealand (both 7).

 The Warehouse and Fisher & Paykel tend to be most admired by older members of the community aged 55 plus who give average ratings of 7.7 and 7.5 consecutively.

 The under 18-year olds show somewhat less support for these companies, rating The Warehouse at 6.9 and Fisher and Paykel at 6.3.

 New Zealanders view companies in high regard if they:
– have a consistent level of quality service and products
– have a strong community involvement
– are perceived to be local
– are successful innovators and have a reputation as a good employer

1. Attitudes towards quality

 New Zealanders, in general, demand a consistent level of quality service and products from the commercial sector.

 Two out of every three Kiwis are more likely to think favourably about a company if it delivers on its promise.

 Air New Zealand, Cadbury and Fisher & Paykel in particular, were seen to provide a consistent good level of quality product and/or service.

2. Support for community friendly and home grown companies

 Today, quality and service are practically a given. But more and more New Zealanders are now also pausing to think about what’s behind the name on the products and services they are buying and what stand a company or brand takes on the things they care about.

 Nearly half of all New Zealanders strongly associate community involvement and corporate support.

 They are likely to favour those companies who are active in the communities within which they work.

 And it seems that as we get older we become less concerned with what business is giving back to the community – in fact less than 40% of senior citizens rated community involvement as an important attribute for businesses today.

 Compared to the other corporates surveyed, The Warehouse scores particularly high with its involvement in the local community. McDonald’s, with its worldwide philosophy of giving something back to the communities it operates in, is also singled out as a caring and giving company.

 National pride is influential on our feelings towards Kiwi companies. Kiwis, as many as half of us in Auckland and Dunedin in particular, are more likely to think favourably about businesses that are home-grown. Admired companies perceived to have strong local roots include The Warehouse, Fisher & Paykel and Anchor.

 It is perhaps a reflection of the trend towards globalisation that less than 40% of young people, those aged between 18-24, are likely to care about local roots for companies. Almost half of them are far more likely to rate companies on the strength of their international connections. Having said this, more than half of our young adults are also impressed by corporates who have a caring community attitude. This suggests that while companies are admired for international success, there are still strong expectations for involvement in the local communities within which they operate.

3. Innovation and Vision Inspire Confidence

 Turbulent times fuelled by constant change and the depleted economy of recent years may account for why we are also more likely to admire businesses and business-people who are successful innovators or forward thinkers.

 43% of us rate innovation as a key corporate attribute and 37% see forward thinking as important.

 Not surprisingly it is the young adults, perhaps the Global Citizens among us, who are most concerned that companies demonstrate innovation and vision.

 In New Zealand, the key innovators in the corporate environment are perceived to be Fisher & Paykel and The Warehouse. Approximately one in ten respondents strongly associated these two leading players with innovation.

4. Good Employers Get the Thumbs Up

 Businesses known for their people practices also tend to be perceived in a positive light by 42% of New Zealanders.

 Wellingtonians are particularly predisposed to companies they regard as good employers – 57% of people from the Capital are most likely to admire a company which treats staff well.

 However, it was Auckland-based Hubbard Foods which scored the highest as a good employer, with 12% of people rating it number one as an employer. The Warehouse closely follows with 11% strongly associating with the company as a good employer.

 Having said this, we also seem to recognise the importance of profits to business success, with only 25% respecting companies who put people ahead of profits. More and more, companies need to find the right balance between people and profit philosophies in order to retain staff and ensure continued profitability.

5. Good Returns Don’t Rate

 While dividend payments and higher share prices can be an important gauge of company performance, our research shows good shareholder returns are relatively unimportant attributes of admired companies.

 Only 18% of respondents would respect companies who gave good returns. Compare this to the 68% who strongly associate high quality products and services with the companies they most admire.
What Does This Mean For New Zealand Businesses?

 Corporate reputation, or how a business is perceived by its stakeholders, is becoming increasingly important for companies.

 Favourable perceptions can result in a wide range of business benefits such as increased sales, improved employee morale, higher confidence from the investment community and make it easier on businesses involved in issues in the public arena.

 For example, community involvement rates in our survey as one of the attributes most strongly associated with favourable perceptions of businesses.

 In short, stakeholders are demanding higher standards of citizenship from companies.

 It can also be said companies themselves are seeing the necessity for private sector resources to counter growing social issues and to supplement government resources.

 Many New Zealand companies have a history of being involved in their local communities through philanthropy, with the aim of being seen as a good neighbour.

 But trends indicate this isn’t enough any more. In order for businesses to truly be seen as good corporate citizens, and for this to have a positive impact on their reputation, they need to become involved in the local community in a broader number of ways.

 This means making community involvement a strategic activity, creating wider partnerships to fulfil a wider range of community needs and encouraging employee participation, to name a few.

Section Three
Implications for the Future

The implications of these findings for New Zealand in general, and the Government in particular, are potentially significant and will demand a response.

There appears to be a growing schism between Global Citizens and Provincial Hermits. The pace of change must mean their differences will become greater rather than lesser. It is not fanciful to imagine they could result in social polarisation. Global Citizens looking to new challenges, here and abroad and Provincial Hermits falling into ever more disenfranchising isolation as the world sweeps past them.

Of course, some groups always do better than others. But the risk is that, with the onset of the fast moving knowledge economy, we may see the development of a new kind of structural unemployment based on outdated (and unwilling) attitudes and unusable skills.

We also face the prospect of accelerating New Zealand’s loss of human capital. The allure of working overseas is strip mining our best and brightest. We have to give them reasons to stay in New Zealand which are more valuable than those which drive them overseas. Government policy must have a key role here.

In the second part of our survey we looked at attitudes toward business. They signal that the businesses for social responsibility movement has stimulated kinder, gentler thoughts toward the commercial community.

Perhaps the profit-driven, hard edged, commercially oriented approach is outdated. Perhaps consumers are looking for friendly brands whose distinguishing factor is how much we want them in our neighbourhood (quality of service and product being equal). The research suggests there is room for companies to review their brand strategies.

Issue 1: The Brain Drain

The energy and commitment to change demonstrates the value of our Global Citizens. They are the people the nation needs, and the people who are leaving. Why? The small scale of the economy; greater opportunities; comparatively low rates of remuneration; crippling student debt, among other things.

There is no magic solution to retaining them. Or attracting them back after they have left. Although the environment and raising a family are still proving to be strong magnets for Kiwis and were identified in Wave Three of the Currents of Thought research as the strongest reasons to live in New Zealand compared to overseas. Only 2% of respondents said they plan to leave New Zealand for good.

The question this begs is will this continue to be enough? It’s also interesting to note that Wave Three also showed the intellectuals (with a post-graduate degree) among us stood out as one group who have little intention of leaving New Zealand for good. But it needs to be understood this sector accounts for less than 4% of the population, while our Global Citizens are approaching 20% and growing.

On the macro level, perhaps we should look at the policies that have generated the success of Ireland and Finland. On the micro level, perhaps we should look at issues such as student debt (a discount for staying in NZ; a discount for undertaking particular types of study; different rates for women; internships in return for fee breaks etc). In business strategies may call for more flexible employment policies, perhaps more flexible working weeks and holidays and better opportunities for training and personal development.

Issue 2: The technology gap

Won’t learn, don’t learn. It sounds like a hard judgement, but that’s the modus operandi of many Provincial Hermits. But it’s not sustainable, for them or for the nation. New Zealand must upskill itself, and Provincial Hermits must take part in the process, if only to avoid becoming a drain on the resources of the economy.

Once again, there are opportunities for government and other providers here: better training in IT at school (and the benefit of the push-pull effect on parents at home); simpler community level IT courses (even if the objective is little more than to take the fear out of IT). Employers too should take some responsibility (why not promote computer literacy at work?).

We’re closing the gaps with Maori. Technology gaps are opening up in other areas of the economy that are just as pressing.

Issue 3: A head for business and a heart for people

The public approves of companies who are local, good neighbours, community oriented, and good employers. It’s no surprise the companies they approved of have brands which express these characteristics such as The Warehouse and McDonald’s.

This appears to have come about as a result of at least two influences:

 We want to see our personal characteristics in the businesses from which we buy: we are attached to brands that reflect the characteristics and attitudes we admire within ourselves and others

 The trend toward globalisation has also reinforced the importance of local connections - while companies are admired for their international success, to succeed in New Zealand they need to act local.

What should businesses do?

 Consider reviewing their employee relationships in line with this new thinking, i.e the old adage fits ‘charity begins in the home’. Companies will need to look at how the workplace environment is structured and what training is provided to employees in line with new demands for flexibility and skills.

 Build this new thinking into their corporate/brand positioning and into communications wherever possible and avoid communications which contradict it.

 Ensure community involvement needs to become an ongoing strategic business activity. People want companies to walk the talk in relation to their promises.

 Of course, the public also wants quality and service - but that should be a given for most companies.

© Scoop Media

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