A COVID state of mind: five weeks in New Zealand

1 May 2020


This week we're taking a moment to pause and review our changing state of mind as a nation in isolation.

Since late March, we have been conducting weekly surveys with thousands of New Zealanders, exploring different themes each week and understanding where we are at as a nation, and how our mindset is changing on the way we see ourselves and the world we live in…

Weeks 1-5: a snapshot of our lives

Week 1

A time of uncertainty, with our locus of control turned on its head, that had us focusing on ensuring we and our family were safe

In week 1 we found that we were concerned about the impact of COVID-19, even though we didn't think we were likely to contract it. It wasn’t the virus we were most worried about, rather the impact on the things we couldn't control; our country and our families.

We listened closely to and complied with the information sources we could trust and started to get a sense for companies and organisations that we believed were visibly getting behind us: essential services like supermarkets.

Our true colours

In week 1 we showed our true colours as a nation: prioritising the welfare of our country and others, and a willingness to take drastic action for the collective good. New Zealand has an immutable collective spirit when challenged. There is an opportunity for businesses to harness this collective spirit in the marketing and comms going forward.

Week 2

In Alert Level 4 isolation, we began to pine for the freedom & connection we once took for granted in our everyday lives

It was also a time when we started to feel less certain about our own futures, and a time of struggle as we grapple with loosing that which makes us human – Freedom & Spontaneity, Socialisation & Physical Connection, Safety & Certainty, and Personal Space & Alone Time.

This focus on our our basic human needs and missing the little things we had taken for granted; freedom and human connection – hugs and handshakes, mobility and spontaneity – found us appreciating more of those companies that meet our most basic needs – Countdown, Pak‘nSave, New World and St John were seen as companies supporting us. That, in return, made us want to support them. 

Downgrading expectations

Isolation helped us realise how important life's little, simple pleasures are and how they're often taken for granted. This shift in desire from big ticket items to simpler everyday joys will endure. This is a time to look for ways to amplify the simple pleasure your brand may bring to people's daily lives.

Week 3

Out of deep uncertainty and anxiety about our futures, we found a new appreciation for the tried and true – and those professions, companies and industries we believe could help the country's recovery moving forward

This was a time where financial fears started to weigh down on us and we witness a growing anxiety around financial and job security.

As we watched economic fall out across a range of sectors and questioned if some businesses were truly in our corner, we rediscovered our pride of the agricultural/primary sector - who we believed to be the re-emerging hero of the NZ economy.

But there is still a view that to be globally competitive we also need to be technologically competitive, and lockdown has taught us it’s importance, and accelerated our familiarity. Kiwis were focusing on a mix of the tried and true and the new to lead us forward as a nation.

Security in an agricultural and technological future

This was a time for agribusiness to shine, and with a new technically empowered population, a time for organisations to think about how they can use technology to innovate and enable their customers.

Week 4

A shift from an external global focus to immense pride in our country and in our own backyards; a new found love of home

We had a new appreciation for our home environments and a new sense of joy from upgrading them. We made ourselves busy at home; ticking off our to-do lists, including DIY and home improvements. And we were looking to spend differently - consciously closer to home to support local businesses, but also holding off on the bigger ticket items.

A war-time pride brings us together

This was a time to play to the pride New Zealanders were feeling in their country, and the knowledge that the rest of the world was looking enviously at us. It was timely for export businesses to leverage the equity we had earned through this pandemic and align our businesses with the positive ‘NZ Inc’ brand values the international media were talking about.

Week 5

The first taste of 'ordinary life' returning? Kiwis started craving fast food as we began to consider what our 'new normal' would look like

We found a fresh appreciation of those closest to us - our families, as the lockdown offered more of what was normally in short supply – TIME! This created a movement of stepping back, slowing down and appreciating the little and simple things in life  - think a Cheeseburger from McDonald’s or a coffee from a local cafe.

We had not lost our desire to travel and were starting to turn our eyes to exploring our own back yard – New Zealand. With a ‘new normal’ weighing down on Kiwis, even our domestic travel was expected to change. There was a new set of key considerations when selecting a destination - hygiene, cost and crowds.

Letting your heartland values shine

COVID-19 had shifted our expectations and, with a new appreciation of the simple, ordinary pleasures and experiences, it was finally time for heartland brands to shine. What was considered ordinary may have become the new extraordinary. Local, everyday products, services and brands (and experiences) had the opportunity to recapture hearts and minds.

Bringing it all together

What big themes have we seen from our COVID Conversations?

Trust and reliability are more important than ever

In crisis times of uncertainty and fear, we look to what we know we can trust and is reliable, and we’ve seen our values being illustrated in our actions which makes us proud to be Kiwis.

Our primary/agricultural sector is viewed to be a re-emerging hero, key in helping revive our economy, whilst technology finds a growing importance in a now more tech-savvy consumer.

Dreams and priorities have been shifted and consumers will look to fill the gaps

In having our freedom and normal routines disrupted we’ve also had our dreams put on hold. The OE, the shift in career, the saving for a new house is now that little bit further from our reach.

The desire for things like travel and progression won’t disappear; we need to look for ways to enable this as we shift out of each level.

It’s highlighted the important things in consumers’ lives

We look for positivity in bad situations – in being forced to stay home we've also been able to spend on the important things in life: TIME.

There are intentions to continue spending more time on what matters most to them; a new appreciation for the simpler, more essential things in life and for the enduring Kiwi collective spirit.

The four driving forces of lasting impact


Next week, we'll be continuing our discussion...

We're launching our latest survey as we post this article. If you'd like to get involved, please share your questions for the nation. Be part of the One Picture COVID Conversation.

Please email questions to MareeL@onepicture.com. We field our surveys every Friday, with findings available EOB Wednesday. We look forward to you being part of it.

Like this article?

If you'd like to hear more, subscribe to Frame or live chat to the team right here on this page.

Tags: New Zealand, COVID19, Lockdown, Wellbeing