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Regional Kiwis Don’t Trust Digital

Tuesday’s New Zealand Marketing Associations’ Brainy Breakfast Targeting Regional NZ: Life Beyond the Big Smoke confirmed our suspicions that regional New Zealanders are more hesitant to trust digital marketing than traditional print media. Over and over again the Nielsen representative presented statistics, read quotes, and showed videos of regional Kiwis wax poetic about the benefits and rewards gained from local print publications.

Regional kiwis spend more time reading newspapers and less time surfing the internet than their Metro counterparts. Those of us who spend our time perfecting banner ads, crafting the perfect Facebook post, and researching the best Google ad words, were left wondering where we’ve been missing the mark with the regional kiwi audience.

Perhaps we hadn’t been taking this audience seriously enough. But it turns out this demographic has huge potential. The Nielsen study found that regional Kiwis have more disposable income (which they plan on spending, not necessarily saving), and have more time to engage in leisure activities. On average, it takes them less than fifteen minutes to commute to work, a fraction of the Auckland norm!


The challenge to digital marketers is regional kiwis prefer to learn about new products, brands, and promotions whilst casually reading the local newspaper in their local café, perusing localised ads. In fact, the report showed that only 11% of regional kiwis thought social ads were useful, and 31% found them outright “annoying”.


Unfortunately, the presentation did not address digital trends and habits in the regions. In the near future, can we expect a similar acceptance of digital advertising and media consumption as seen in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch? Furthermore, with an increasing number of metro kiwis moving away from the city, should we assume they’ll bring their digital habits with them?


Digital agencies now have an opportunity to play a significant role in regional media consumption habits. The Nielsen report found that regional kiwis claim to prefer local print media for the curated mix of national, international, and community news. They enjoy the localised content and ads, supporting local businesses and journalism, and the physical act itself of reading the paper. While digital marketers can’t replicate the tangible pleasure of flipping through a newspaper or magazine, we can emulate the gratifying mental stimulation created by localised print content.

With the government’s dedication to improve ICT infrastructure across New Zealand, we can only expect for it to be easier and easier for Kiwis to digitally engage with their communities. $1.5 billion has been invested in the rollout of ultra-fast broadband (UFB) across regional New Zealand, and already, the service has been made available to 570,000 users across 32 regional towns and cities. Furthermore, an additional $100 million is to be invested in regional connectivity.


It is our responsibility as digital marketers to prove the usefulness of the internet and social media to discover new brands and products. Our industry has the ability to shape usage habits to a certain degree. We can discourage the adoption of digital media by producing unappealing content, or we can find a way to be engaging and attract to the growing, and deep-pocketed, regional audience.

We need to listen to their concerns and respond to their needs.

Thank you to News Works, the New Zealand Marketing Association, and the Pullman Hotel for hosting this thought-provoking event. Looking forward to the next one!