We are surprisingly forward when it comes to the dark art of promoting ourselves via advertising.
In a nutshell
- For every $1 we spend on advertising, we spend fewer than five cents on listening to people, suggesting we’re making some pretty big assumptions about our customers based on limited empirical knowledge.
- We see ourselves through a strongly idealised set of historic beliefs and ideals. But our society is evolving and these ideas are no longer as relevant as they once were. We must start to consider what a revised view of New Zealand might look like.
- Context is important when we look to understand why people behave and make decisions the way they do. Critical to this are the big ideas of how our culture is shifting under the impact of prevailing social movements and population changes.
Of all nations in the world, only seven outspend New Zealand on advertising in per capita terms, and in 2015, we clocked up a rather impressive $515 of spend in the sector for every man, woman and child in the country.
And it turns out we’re actually pretty good at making the stuff as well. Campaign Brief recently reported New Zealand as the third most creative country in the world, with our agencies and creative directors regularly taking out top spots on global awards lists. Indeed, we could say that as a nation we have a potential competitive advantage present in our capacity for utilising creativity in business.
What we are not so good at, however, is listening to and understanding ourselves. While we nearly top the world in the per capita amount we spend on advertising, we are underweight in what we invest in insight. For every person in the country, we spend about $25 on research and analytics per annum. Or, in relative terms to our advertising spend, for every $1 we spend on talking, we spend fewer than five cents on listening. A ratio that’s about half what is spent in the US and about a quarter of what’s spent in the UK.
Now this to me is fascinating, because what it says is that we as a marketing industry are either so in touch with our own culture and society that we simply do not require further insight to guide our creative endeavours, or else we are in a more dangerous place where we’re making some pretty big assumptions about ourselves based on limited empirical knowledge. And if it’s the latter, then given our creative bent, we are missing a fundamental opportunity for growth in how we think about channelling our competitive advantage in creativity.
What we see in our conversations with both people on the street and those in the business and marketing communities is that we often feel like we understand what it means to be a Kiwi because we have such a deeply ingrained idea of what we expect ourselves to be – even if there is little evidence to support this. And of course, we tend to hang out with people like ourselves quite a lot, which can further cement our views that our own experience is more broadly definitive of the culture we live in. And while this could be seen as fairly true for a lot of countries, it is especially true of New Zealand because of our status as a small, isolated, but highly developed economy.