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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Toluna

Cautious NZ consumers have decreased spending, with less than half feeling financially secure

Consumer intelligence platform, Toluna, surveyed a nationally representative sample of 510 New Zealanders between 17-20 September 2020 to gauge spending confidence and financial security.

The findings show New Zealanders are faced with a sense of financial insecurity and cautiousness around spending, now and over the next six to 12 months.

Financial security

One out of four New Zealanders are not feeling secure financially:

Almost a quarter (24%) had a poor sense of financial security  
34% were feeling average
Less than half (41%) of New Zealanders are feeling positive about their financial security

When looking at their financial situation now, compared with six months ago:

29% said their financial situation was worse
58% said it was the same
While only 13% reported to having a better financial situation compared to six months ago  

Spending habits

The uncertain economic times brought by the pandemic have had an effect on spending. Over the last six months:

40% of respondents report to have decreased their spending over the last six months
42% said spending has remained the same
While 18% said spending has increased

The last six months has also seen more considered spending, with almost half (44%) saying they now wait until there are sales or deals before purchasing. Other changes to shopping behaviours include:

More time spent considering their financial situation before spending (36%)  
A longer time spent researching before purchasing (35%)  
Increased use of online shopping (34%)

Looking forward, discretionary spending is expected to decrease over the next six months, with consumers expecting to spend less on entertainment, alcohol, household goods and beauty. With more people working from home, transport costs are expected to go down, and travel restrictions are a likely reason almost half the respondents plan to spend less on travel.  

Key areas respondents expect to decrease their spending include:

Travel (51%)  
Eating out, takeaway (42%)
Entertainment and leisure (38%)
Transport (26%)
28% of respondents expect to decrease alcohol purchases over the next six months, but 56% state it will remain the same
Electronics, furniture and household items (28%)
Personal care and beauty (20%)

With more time spent at home, New Zealanders expect to increase spending on rent or house maintenance, groceries, utilities and will also increase spending on health care ove the next six months:

Rent, house maintenance (25%)
Groceries (21%)
Utilities (16%)
Health care (15%)

Biggest concerns

Looking at financial concerns over the next 6-12 months:

86% are concerned about an economic recession
85% are concerned about inflation and the increasing cost of living  
63% are concerned about a decrease in income
62% are concerned about losing some money or capital  
45% are concerned about becoming unemployed  

Other concerns included:

Political systems failing (57%)  
Becoming lonely (40%)  
Government support not being available (62%)
Restricted access to food supply (45%)
Becoming infected with COVID-19 (54%)
Society becoming more selfish (74%)
The health system being overloaded (71%)
Further quarantine lockdowns (66%)  

Establishing trust

When it comes to trust, word of mouth is stronger than ever, with the opinions and family and friends considered by far the most trustworthy for respondents.  

When asked whose opinion would they trust and consider, respondents would always or often trust or consider the opions of:

Friends and family (51%)
Government authorities (39%)

Conversely, respondents would never or rarely trust or consider opinions from:

Social media (70%)
Political leaders (32%)  
Or co-workers (30%)

When it comes to news media, respondents were split:

24% always or often trust news media
48% sometimes trust news media
While 28% rarely or never trust news media  

Toluna analysis

Stephen Walker, Toluna’s Business Director, ANZ, said, “This research indicates New Zealanders are faced with a sense of financial insecurity and cautiousness around spending, now and over the next six to 12 months. This Christmas, New Zealanders are planning to tighten their wallets and cut down on unnecessary purchases such as eating out and entertainment, while more time spent at home is resulting in bigger budgets for groceries and utilities.

“For marketers, brand trust is more important than ever. Cautious consumers have changed their spending habits over the last six months, and now invest more time in research before purchasing; with the opinions of friends and family highly influential. It’s so important for brands to position themselves as trustworthy and reliable in order to be a consideration in these uncertain times.”

About Toluna  

Toluna delivers real-time consumer insights at the speed of the on-demand economy. With a commitment to leading by technology innovation, Toluna revolutionises market research and empowers clients with the agility to instantly conduct quantitative and qualitative research. By combining global scale and local expertise with innovative digital solutions and award-winning research design, Toluna helps clients explore tomorrow, now.  

Toluna is the parent company of Harris Interactive Europe and KuRunData. Together, we strive to push market research toward a better tomorrow.