Migrants now make up 44% of the Auckland population yet few companies are maximising the potential of this important and growing market. HTG and social trends research company, Windshift, have just completed a major research project among migrants. We spent 100 hours conducting in-home interviews as well as a national survey comparing NZ born and migrant New Zealanders.

We found that migrants tend to be highly educated middle class people who are savvy consumers and well disposed towards New Zealand brands. Migrants are loyal to brands that clearly demonstrate they value migrants’ business. Sixty five percent are educated to degree level or above compared with just 36% of those that are New Zealand born. And 72% consider themselves financially stable or prospering, compared with 54% of New Zealand born.

“There has been much discussion about immigration recently, but none has really centred on what a huge opportunity this group offers New Zealand businesses,” says HT Group’s MD Mike Hall-Taylor.

Most companies base their thinking around the traditional bicultural Kiwi model rather than thinking about the messages and actions that will make immigrant consumers feel embraced by and engaged with a brand, Hall-Taylor says.

“They may use diverse actors in their advertising or translate communications into different languages but it is about incorporating diverse thinking into campaigns at the outset.”

The top five Kiwi brands rated by migrants are Pak n Save, TradeMe, Whittakers, Air New Zealand and ASB. All were felt to be friendly, offer cost savings or make life easier for migrants.  Pak n Save, for example, was recognised for having a wide range of ethnic products and for being much better value for money.  ASB was acknowledged for actively makes life easier for new migrants, speaking their language and offering hassle free service.

Migrants with poor English would avoid products and services where communication was difficult.  For example food products that don’t have a product picture on the packaging.  Or the technicalities of insurance which would be difficult without a broker who could also act as a translator.

Often describing themselves as people who “think outside the box”, compared with their friends that remained in their home country, the majority of migrants considered themselves cosmopolitan, experimental, ambitious, hard-working and optimistic about their new life.

Migrants felt the New Zealand culture allowed for a new healthier lifestyle, with 38% of long-term migrants on a low-sugar diet (compared to 22% NZ born) and almost a quarter (24%) of recent migrants eating organic (compared to 14% NZ born). 

The study involved interviews with 94 recent migrants of North Asia, South Asia and European ethnicity (arriving between 2005 and 2014) and a survey comparing the views of 572 New Zealand born and 465 migrant New Zealanders (all living in Auckland).

The research identified three different types of migrants: Global Citizens (who will always travel and may move on), Proto Kiwis (embracing Kiwi life, with a long-term commitment to the country and deliberate attempts to adopt the New Zealand accent, values and diet) and Transplants (appreciate core aspects of New Zealand but have little engagement with other groups). These groups were consistent not matter which part of the world the immigrants were from.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • Recent migrants are mainly renters – only 36% of migrants who arrived here since 2005 own a house compared with 51% NZ born people. Although the growing population is putting a burden on our housing, migrants are not buying more houses relative to NZ born people.
  • Migrants are loyal– to organisations who actively embrace new migrants and will actively promote these brands to their networks.
  • Migrants believe NZ is heading in the right direction – Sixty one per cent of migrants described New Zealand as going in the right direction, compared with 41% of New Zealand born, and most moved from sophisticated, faced paced commercial environments with high pressure education and work lives.




For more information please contact clare@htgroup.co.nz.