Academic journal article New Zealand Sociology

The New Zealand Consumer Lifestyle Segments

Academic journal article New Zealand Sociology

The New Zealand Consumer Lifestyle Segments

Article excerpt


This article reports on the results of a consumer lifestyles segmentation study of the adult New Zealand population, which is part of an ongoing research programme conducted by consumer behaviour researchers at the University of Otago since 1979. Seven lifestyle segments were identified: the 'Progressives', 'Disengaged', 'Young Pleasure-Seekers', 'New Greens', 'Success-Driven Extroverts', 'Quiet Lifers' and 'Traditional Family Values'. These segments are based on responses to nearly 200 questions about consumer attitudes, opinions and behaviours from over 2,000 respondents. The discussion of the segments provides a number of new and useful insights into the contemporary world of the New Zealand consumer.


The New Zealand Lifestyles survey is a research programme that has been operational at the Department of Marketing, University of Otago, since 1979, with surveys conducted in 1979, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2013. These studies are designed to provide an understanding of the psychographic and behavioural patterns and trends of New Zealand consumers.

This study reports on the 2013 data, and describes patterns in the social, political and cultural attitudes, lifestyle orientations and behaviours of the New Zealand adult population at this time. Comparisons are also made to the previous wave in 2005 (Evans, Todd & Lawson, 2006). The study identifies seven lifestyle segments which are defined according to their psychographic, attitudinal and behavioural characteristics and named for explanatory purposes as: Progressives; Disengaged; Young Pleasure Seekers; New Greens; Success-Driven Extroverts; Quiet-lifers and Traditional Family Values. These lifestyle segments are discussed in detail below, and the most significant differences between them and the 2005 segments, as well as possible explanations for the changes, are also discussed.



Data was collected from 2036 individuals in late 2013 using an on-line questionnaire covering a range of psychographic, consumption and lifestyle questions. The essential methods for the Lifestyles research programme are based on the work of Plummer (1974), who provided the lifestyle dimensions listed in Table 1 below. Almost 600 individual questions (579) were used to collect information across these dimensions. Over the iterations of the New Zealand Lifestyles survey programme, new questions have been added and some of the questions investigating each of these issues have been updated to represent changing norms, technologies and behaviours. For example, opinions and norms regarding the social acceptability of homosexuality and women in the workforce have changed over this period in New Zealand, and can no longer be used to reliably differentiate between any but the most crude classifications of opinion groups. Other items from previous waves were incorporated directly in the current survey.

Gathering responses was contracted to a commercial Australasian research company. Our instructions were that the respondents should be demographically representative of the New Zealand population in terms of age, sex, education, ethnicity and income. Over 2,000 (2036) usable responses were retained for analysis. Because an independent panel survey was used it is not possible to calculate a response rate (participants are signed up to complete the surveys they are sent).

Creating the segments

The segments were developed using k-means clustering which was developed for handling large datasets. In common with most other clustering algorithms k- means requires metric inputs so the clusters are formed using the data collected on opinions parts of the questionnaire. Almost 200 (191) questions were used as the base variables and several cluster solutions were derived with different numbers of groups ranging from five through to eight. These were checked for stability by repeating the clustering using different starting points. …

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