Nielsen’s latest consumer confidence results for the second quarter of 2017 reveals that across the Pacific, Australian and New Zealand consumers paint a very different picture of their future outlook.
New Zealand continues to ride its wave of positivity with a consumer confidence score of 103 for Q2 2017 - up seven points on 12 months ago and the highest it has been in nine years. Australia, on the other hand, recorded a consumer confidence score of 89 - slightly down on where it had been consistently sitting at 91 for most of 2016 and well below the global average of 104.
Rising optimism among Kiwi consumers has been driven by notable increases in all key confidence influencers. Sixty percent of New Zealanders believe that local job prospects are good/excellent over the next 12 months - up 14 percentage points on Q2 2016. More than three-in-five (61%) consumers say the state of their personal finances are good/excellent (up six percentage points on Q2 2017); while 47% believe it is now a good/excellent time to buy what they need and want (up from 39% in Q2 2016).
New Zealanders’ biggest concerns are a reflection of their current positive outlook. Health, increasing food prices, rising utility expenses, job security and work/life balance are the top five concerns among Kiwis. They are less concerned about the economy, jobs and debt levels which has featured more prominently during times of low consumer confidence.
The unemployment rate in New Zealand (currently at 4.8%), has moved in the opposite direction to consumer confidence and is the lowest it has been since March 2009, showing once again how positive Kiwis are feeling about life.
The FMCG sector in New Zealand has also enjoyed buoyant growth. Topline dollar value increased by +3.7% in the second quarter of 2017 compared to a year ago, largely driven by price inflation in chilled dairy categories and new product development fuelling confectionery growth.
Underpinning Australians’ pessimistic outlook is their perception of local job prospects. Less than one-third of consumers (32%) say that labour conditions are good/excellent over the next 12 months - almost half the proportion of Kiwi consumers (60%) and well below the global benchmark of 53%. Just over half (51%) of Australian consumers say that the state of their personal finances are good/excellent - up two points versus Q2 2016; while just 42% say it is a good/excellent time to buy the things they want and need.
Australian consumers’ top three major concerns are also feeding our lower confidence levels with rising utility bills, the economy and terrorism most likely to keep us up at night.
In the Australian grocery sector, environmental factors such as record under-employment, low wage inflation, rising utilities prices as well as the increased strength of private label and discounters has affected channel growth.
High house prices (especially in Auckland), have driven people to live further away from their workplace/city centre. Longer commute times means consumers are more likely to visit supermarkets for smaller/top-up shopping trips.
The rapid rise in meal kit sales has taken retailers by surprise. This represents both a threat and opportunity for them, and needs to be part of their broader e-commerce strategic plan. The growth in meal kits has been fuelled by an increasing number of consumers looking for convenient ways to have nutritious meals delivered at affordable prices that minimise waste.
In Australia, Asian-born consumers are growing in importance and engaging with them requires a change in mindset that very few Australian manufacturers have embraced to date. For example, Asians’ food preferences are very different. They devote almost a third (32%) of their grocery spend to fresh food (compared to Australian-born consumers who allocate 26% of their spend on fresh); and they also have a strong skew toward seafood, fresh herbs and healthier food options in general.
Genuine strategies that put the consumer first will ensure that retailers and manufacturers alike will win with this growing group of ethnic-Australian consumers.
For additional insights, download Nielsen’s Consumer Confidence Index report for Q2 2017.
The Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index measures perceptions of local job prospects, personal finances and immediate-spending intentions. Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively. Within a country, period-to-period movements of seven points or more are considered statistically significant. At a global level, movements of two points are statistically significant; at a regional level, three to four-point movements are statistically significant. The index and other findings related to consumer confidence are based on data from the Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions. Established in 2005, this survey measures consumer confidence, major concerns and spending intentions among more than 30,000 respondents with internet access in 63 countries.