How to succeed in a mobile-first world?

Behind the Device: Decoding the NZ mobile consumer looks beyond the technology to uncover the motivations, attitudes and behaviours of the many people in New Zealand who are now living ‘smart lives’.

At Fresh Focus we immerse ourselves in what global brand strategist Martin Lindstrom famously calls the ‘small data’ of life – clues that can only be found in people’s homes, cars, on their phone, bathroom drawers, pantries and walking alongside people pushing their shopping carts. Ultimately – we are storytellers. The main goal for this report is to share some of the stories we discovered about NZ mobile consumers so you can truly understand the person behind the device.

According to Zenith’s recent mobile advertising forecast, mobile will represent 75% of web use in 2017. That is three in four internet searches being conducted on a mobile.

But whilst smartphone penetration has almost peaked, this does not mean that we all use our phones in the same way. My app filing is very different to my husband’s and I consume mobile content quite differently to my Mum. We are all different… with different values, cultures and motivations.

To unlock these nuances we interviewed industry experts and thought leaders coupled with a broad spectrum of consumers from 16 yr old high school students to 70 yr old retirees. As researchers we try to find common themes…but the challenge of understanding the role of a device that did not exist ten years ago is that there are few frameworks of meaning, no bedrock social theories to reference.It is why research like this is so critical, as it adds another layer of knowledge to understanding how NZ culture and connection is evolving.


I think at the time it was the first thing that I’d really come across that I thought this (mobile) is going to change the way people behave and I want to be there from the beginning.”

Nic Gibbons, CEO of Paperkite App Developer

The final phase of the research was a mobile-led survey with a nationally representative group of 1005 people who have a smartphone from the Pureprofile digital consumer panel. This stage allowed us to put ‘hard numbers’ around our insights, and break down the NZ mobile market into commercially relevant segments that can be targeted and marketed to. We wanted to go beyond the demographics and deliver a more meaningful segmentation of the NZ mobile consumer.

Four key occasions for brands to be there

Imagine having a clearer picture of your customer’s context and mindset when they engage with your content and brand at different points during the day. How would you change your message? What format would you deliver your content in?

For some, the phone never sleeps, and is a constant companion throughout the day and night.


“My alarm which is on my phone, wakes me up. Then I check all my social media. I check Instagram first, then Facebook and finally Snapchat. Snapchat is last because I have to do my streaks. I do it in the morning to get it out of the way.”
Starcia, 16 yr old girl, high school student

For the majority however, there are clear moments and occasions of peak smartphone usage. We know that three in ten smartphone users are highly active in the morning – so what else is going on at that time? Are they a Mum about to launch into getting the kids ready for school and have five minutes before she has to get them breakfast or a high school student that can scroll uninterrupted for 30 minutes before rolling out of bed to catch the bus.


Where are your customers in the mobile purchase funnel?

No surprise here – mobile has forever changed the way we live and how we engage with brands, products and services. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one an opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.

So where do New Zealanders sit on this journey. What is our mobile path to purchase? In our survey, we asked New Zealand smartphone users when they relied on their mobile in a recent major purchase. One third of the total sample claimed they used their phone for inspiration.

Almost 8 in 10 New Zealanders turn to their phone for research indicating the significant influence of those pre-purchase mobile moments.

But what about the moment of truth – converting to a sale…only 16% claimed they used their phone to buy. So we have a lot of Kiwis using their phone at multiple points in the journey but we lose them.


Yet when you look at the figures for Millennials (16-29yrs), there is a marked difference with 84% using their phone for research, 50% for inspiration and 23% to purchase. This signals a clear shift in how the next generation of New Zealanders shop and how brands need to address this audience.

How to connect with hard to reach consumers

There are five segments of smartphone users in New Zealand. Two segments represent roughly half of the people in the market (Socialites and Kiwi Dads).


Socialites are the largest segment with almost one third of NZ smartphone users falling into this category. The two smallest segments – Content Scouts and Uberconnectors represent less than a third of people but the majority of traffic. They are also the most content hungry and dynamic mobile segments, and present significant opportunity for marketers.

Almost half (46%) of Digital Grandparents are over 60 years old. At the other end of the spectrum, Uberconnectors and Content Scouts skew younger with over six in ten (65%) Content Scouts under 40 yrs.

Whilst Digital Grandparents are most likely to be NZ European, the Uberconnector segment has the highest proportion of Maori/Pacific Islanders and Indian/Asian consumers. For marketers trying to reach these audiences through mobile – these are the segments to target.

To learn more about the NZ mobile consumer and how you can connect with them in a more authentic way, check out or contact Sarah on


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