In word association ‘regional New Zealand’ tends to elicit images of farming, beach holidays, ice creams in a cone, grassy plains and rugged coastlines.
And those associations aren’t wrong.
But increasingly regions outside of New Zealand’s big cities are providing so much more than their landscapes, with world class businesses and well-connected and informed audiences helping to shape the country’s economy.
According to Nielsen Consumer Media Insights (CMI), more than half of Kiwis live outside Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch – that’s 51 percent of our population or 1.96 million New Zealanders.
In a study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of News Works titled “Life beyond the big smoke”, 86 percent of those living in the regions stated that they “felt very positive about life”. 86 percent of people also said that although they “may not earn as much as those in the big cities, they had a better lifestyle”. They noted a sense of community, plenty of time to spend with family and friends, and a low cost of living – in turn a nice home – as key reasons the regions suited them.
And that lifestyle hasn’t gone unnoticed by city-dwellers and foreigners who are moving to the regions and oftentimes bringing development, diversity, culture, and entertainment.
Brian Hill, the CEO of news media booking and advocacy company News Works, says although not ignored, the importance of New Zealand’s regions in terms of population and GDP is possibly overlooked by brands, marketers and advertisers in the big cities.
“Also we perhaps underestimate that their perspective and use of media is different to urban areas,” he says.
“Those in the regions definitely have more time, they have a lower cost of living so they seem to be more likely to be renovating their home or planning purchases, and they have a slightly slower lifestyle with more time to engage with newspapers and other traditional media.”
The Nielsen study showed that those living in the regions between the ages of 25-69 years old are less reliant on mobile phones than those in the cities, spend more time reading newspapers and less time online, and are more likely to read newspapers and watch TV. This group is also less likely to use social media. They are also more likely to be influenced by newspapers and TV than radio when making purchase decisions.
And with 35 percent of the country’s GDP coming from the regions, and job creation, housing and tourism all on the rise, plus the Government’s $130.2 million commitment for economic growth projects across a number of sectors in regional New Zealand, it’s a hot market.
Hill says although differences in how audiences consume media across the country is subtle, there are differences – and there’s diversity between the regions as well.
Across the regions, new and long-term residents hold a strong sense of community and pride for the places they live, and data shows 63 percent of those who read a newspaper do so to feel in touch with their community.
With 1.02 million newspaper readers in the regions – 52 percent of the regional population – residents are highly connected to their local media and important consumers with the time, money and aspirations to make the most of their lifestyle, Hill says.
“I think the relationship that the urban population has with its news media is strong, but in the regions it’s particularly strong because people rely on it for their perspective around what’s happening locally, they rely on it for community news.
“I think they associate with it that bit more.”
Hill says when brands tailor messages and creative to particular regions there are huge opportunities for success.
He says achieving reach is clearly important, but in addition to this there are countless opportunities using the regions’ unique relationship with their local media to tailor content and create effective and relatable campaigns.
In research undertaken by academic American Amna Kirmani it’s found that consumers predict the amount spent on advertising judging by where an ad is placed, and if a brand is seen to be skimping on placement or putting ads in publications or websites that appear cheap it has an impact on the perception of the brand. This is salient for regional communities.
As an organisation News Works promotes the strengths of newspapers and their websites across New Zealand, with members including NZME, Stuff, Allied Press and a number of other independents, and it shares research and information with marketers and advertisers on the benefits and strengths of the country’s print and online media.
News Works account management team use their newspaper experience to work with agencies to plan, cost and book print campaigns across most newspapers in the country – essentially a one-stop shop for the booking process.
Local news publications and companies spend years collecting information on and reflecting their communities, curating content relevant to readers. The mutually beneficial relationship between communities and local media is evident throughout New Zealand’s regional towns.
Source: Nielsen Consumer Media Insights, All People 15+, Period: YE Q1 2018
Source: Nielsen “Life beyond the big smoke” study, 2016. Conducted on behalf of News Works.
The Regional Rundown series will explore the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke's Bay/Wairarapa, Nelson/Marlborough, and Otago regions. To read the profiles, click here.