Slimming down Santa – Consumers Trim the Fat on Brands This Christmas

In the midst of a Kiwi cost of living crisis, how are Kiwis seeing Christmas ’23?

We talked to over 1100 Kiwis from across Aotearoa – different ages, life stages and ethnicities – in a quantitative engagement survey to get their take on Christmas ‘23!

The One Picture Group’s New Zealand team surveyed over 1100 Kiwis to get their thoughts on how this season is shaping up. Retailers and Consumer Brands take note – this Christmas is looking a bit different for many Kiwi families!

Kiwis across all demographics told us everyone is feeling a little hectic and strained this year. Which is not a surprise after the year we have all had – with significant climate events, rising cost of living, and an election year – this Christmas has 20% of Kiwis feeling stressed. 

Despite all of these challenges, Kiwis remain amazingly resilient and hopeful with 35% feeling excited for a classic Kiwi Christmas (and perhaps a long hot summer in Aotearoa).

What gets us excited about the Christmas season? It’s all about spending time with those we love. 68% of us love the coming together to spend time with whānau and/or friends. Food is also a big part of the Christmas season with 54% excited for a festive Christmas feed. And who are we doing the Christmas shopping with? This year, it’s PAK’nSAVE. Half of those we spoke to said they believe Stickman gives the best value for Christmas kai this year! 

Two thirds of Kiwis are reducing their Christmas spend this year in some way!

There is some good news for brands and retailers – 46% of Kiwis are excited about gift giving. But with this excitement comes stress around the cost of buying presents for 39% of those we spoke to.  Overall, we heard that two-thirds of Kiwis are reducing their Christmas spend this year in some way.  Consumers are strategically thinking how they gift this year. To alleviate financial pressures Kiwis are getting creative to keep the Christmas joy alive, but without breaking the bank – they are shopping with brands that fit the Christmas they want. 

When asked where they plan on buying their Christmas gifts, The Warehouse was a brand favoured by consumers, alongside Kmart and Farmers.  Of course, some Kiwis are saving money by reducing spending on, or simply not buying presents this year (16%), buying less food or buying cheaper brands (12%), or opting for a Secret Santa to reduce costs (11%).


New Zealanders are also thinking about sustainable choices and alternatives  and for those who want to keep this Christmas clean and green, 1 in 4 Kiwis said their best sustainable gift idea is to give a plant or gardening item to be more environmentally conscious. If that’s not your thing, gift givers feel gift cards (10%) or food/drink items (9%) are a more than a suitable sustainable option.

If nearly 685,000 Kiwis don’t celebrate Christmas, should retailers be allowed to open stores on the 25th if they want to?

Christmas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. We discovered that around 1 in 8 (13%) of us don’t celebrate Christmas. So, what do you do on a day when Aotearoa closes? Our conversations suggested there isn’t a lot to do for those that don’t celebrate. If we are lucky enough to have some good weather, Aotearoa’s stunning beaches are open, but should we be having the conversation about retailers, movie theatres and attractions being allowed to open if they want to?

And what’s on everyone’s Santa list for Aotearoa in 2024?

New Zealanders want our government to focus on four significant issues with 22% of people wanting a focus on the economy and building economic growth which if done well will alleviate the other key areas that Kiwis want to see which were less poverty and inequality (17%), better healthcare (14%) and another 14% say crime prevention is important to them.

Our newly formed coalition Government should be cognisant of these as they navigate the future of New Zealand Inc.  From a tourism perspective crime prevention is crucial to attracting visitors to come and see New Zealand.  With some high-profile business closures in recent weeks, we all want to see these left behind in 2023!  So, who’s got it right according to our Kiwi conversations?

When it comes ‘doing good’ in Aotearoa, 80% of New Zealanders think charities are doing a great job right now.


Spontaneously, some of New Zealand’s favourite charities are seen to be the Salvation Army,  Hato Hone St Johns, Red Cross, Kids Can, and the Cancer Society. It’s great to see people show their appreciation for these charitable organisations and take note of the good work they’ve been doing.

And it is not just charities that are helping out everyday New Zealanders. 40% of Kiwis are trying to help others during the current cost of living crisis in particular 14% of Kiwis are donating to those who need it through the likes of food donations and food parcels, 6% are donating their time through volunteering, and 5% are sharing or donating produce from their own gardens. In an illustration of good-old Kiwi culture, we are there for one another in good times and in bad in any way we can.

Brands need to work smarter, not harder in these economic times to adapt. Consumers are looking to create joyful Christmas experiences but are increasingly savvy about where, how and why they are shopping this year. Even Santa will need to rethink how best to respond. 

The findings in this article were part of research conducted by the One Picture Group New Zealand office, comprising areas of brand shopping, education and tourism. If you’re curious about any of these fields in the New Zealand market and want to know more about these insights, please email our Marketing Manager,
Andrew Pears

One Picture Group is a strategy company, consumer insights and brand planning specialists who are 100% Kiwi owned and have been helping brands meet consumers for over 22 years.  If you want to do a deep dive into your customer experience or brand strategy, contact our teams in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Key Contacts:

Robyn Crozier (NZ)

Richard Bourke (Australia)

Jennifer Calvey (UK)

Tags: Insights, New Zealand, One Picture