Kiwis want value for money

By Julia Proverbs


Polar fleeces and jandals are staples of the Kiwi wardrobe.

But we are also partial to designer brands right?

Wrong.

A Nielsen survey has shown just 17 per cent of New Zealanders are willing to pay more for designer goods compared with unbranded products with the same function.

This compares with the global average of 44 per cent, while in China, the highest, three in four people (74 per cent) would spend more on designer goods.

The finding has surprised some Tauranga retailers who say there are those who will pay extra for quality.

"It does surprise me a little," said Julie Hammon, managing director of Hammon Diamond Jeweller.

Her store sold the international, luxury brand Swarovski, popular for its quality and exclusivity.

"People are happy to pay for a premium product like that," she said.

"We wouldn't stock an item if it didn't measure up in terms of design, superiority, material used, packaging and warranties."

However, Kiwi culture was not as "aspirational" as some others, she noted.

"It's quite different overseas where big brands are big business," she said.

Abby Davidson, manager of Davidsons Womenswear, also questioned the low rating.

"I don't think we find that so much in here, especially with New Zealand-designed garments," she said.

"A lot of customers have been wanting to know where the product was made, to justify the price tag."

New Zealand designers were doing well, she added.

"I've just been to Melbourne and when I spoke to people they were well aware of who Karen Walker and Kate Sylvester are. There is more of a surge of people knowing their names."

Sisters' owner Rodelle Payne advised people to buy quality items that would last longer.

Once you had worn cashmere or bamboo cotton you would never go back, she said. "I hope that once people buy designer things and experience the quality of them they will come back and buy more."

But with regard to our hunger for posh nosh the survey hit the mark.

"I'm surprised it's that high to be honest," said Jamie Blennerhassett, co-owner of Mount Maunganui's Nosh Food Market. "People are wary about what they spend their money on. They are really looking for value," he said.

"Some people will pay for it but the vast majority of people look at other options. Could you get it cheaper elsewhere?"

With wine, for example, you could spend $10 or hundreds of dollars on a bottle that "essentially did the same thing", he said. Not many people in New Zealand had so much money that they could afford to spend endlessly, he added.

"We're a young nation. In other countries, the gap between rich and poor is wider so they are aspirational. Here, there is a much flatter divide between rich and poor and the focus is not necessarily on all that glitters is gold."

Head of Nielsen brand practice, Suzie Dale, said New Zealanders and Australians, who rated at 26 per cent, had a real sense of needing to obtain value when buying goods.

"We tend to have a cynical side when it comes to advertising and branding and like to see ourselves as intelligent shoppers who aren't won over solely by marketing claims, but instead buy a product based on merit and the value it offers."


By the numbers


Percentage of people willing to pay more for designer products:



  • China 74 per cent


  • India 59 per cent


  • Korea 52 per cent


  • Italy 36 per cent


  • Japan 31 per cent


  • Australia 26 per cent


  • United States 23 per cent


  • Great Britain 19 per cent


  • New Zealand 17 per cent


  • France 16 per cent


  • Global 44 per cent


- Bay of Plenty Times

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