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New Zealand Story is charged with expanding what New Zealand is known for to improve knowledge, consideration, favourability and preference for New Zealand products and services. As part of this, it regularly conducts market pulse research to explore how consumers perceive their own nation, and how they view New Zealand.

By understanding these perceptions, New Zealand Story, NZ Inc and businesses can create more impactful and relevant content to help shape New Zealand’s nation brand story.

Last year, Fiftyfive5 conducted market pulse research on behalf of New Zealand Story across six key markets, including the United States. The research revealed the following insights:

How Americans see themselves in 2023

  • Americans perceive their nation as highly influential, largely due to its involvement in global military actions. Its cultural exports in sports, music, movies, and technology further contribute to this influence. The US sees itself as a trendsetter, with decisions made within its borders reverberating globally.
  • The US embraces fresh ideas and unrestrained ideation, supported by its robust infrastructure in tech hubs and space programmes. Its individualistic ethos encourages pushing boundaries and trying innovative approaches, while the dominance of global brands such as Apple and Amazon reinforce its leadership in transforming daily life.
  • Despite its strengths, the US acknowledges challenges in key areas such as education, healthcare and sustainability. Internal divisions persist as the country navigates polarising perspectives ahead of the upcoming election.

How New Zealand is perceived in 2023

When it comes to New Zealand, perceptions tend to be anchored in stereotypes or focus on its role as a tourism destination. For Americans, New Zealand is often viewed as an attractive holiday or gap year destination, sometimes overshadowed by Australia (or “Australia-lite”) with a slower, more rural pace of life.

New Zealand is perceived as small, remote, and lacking in sheer power compared to larger nations. New Zealanders are seen as progressive, unproblematic, and having a laid-back lifestyle with a high quality of life. There is also an emphasis on a passion for the outdoors. 

Beyond these attributes, understanding of New Zealand’s key industries and expertise is limited. Awareness of innovations or breakthroughs emerging from New Zealand that impact daily life remain low.

However, when consumers were shown examples of innovation from New Zealand, they were highly surprised. Our well-developed space sector and emissions reduction efforts were unexpected from a small nation.

New Zealand brand proposition – that care for people, and connection to place, drives our ingenuity – strongly aligns with consumers’ perceptions and expectations. These soft power areas are crucial for driving national brand equity. 

While New Zealand may not be able to claim to be a world superpower or a leader in global discourse, there are specific areas it can leverage for significant impact.

Focusing on innovation for the benefit of humanity and taking on the role of steward for the planet are two areas New Zealand can emphasise to enhance its perception. These are areas where other nations feel they are falling short and where New Zealand has a perceived advantage.

Building international influence is crucial for boosting New Zealand’s economic value and business opportunities. By showcasing what sets New Zealand apart, the country’s global appeal can grow, leading to increased demand for its products and services. 

Tim McCready is a Friend of the NZUS Council.

About New Zealand Story

New Zealand Story is a government-led joint venture of different government agencies that work together to tell the story of New Zealand to the world. It was established to protect, enhance and promote Brand New Zealand to expand our country’s reputation and value internationally. 

New Zealand Story’s goal is to maintain and expand what New Zealand is known for, to improve knowledge, consideration, favourability and preference for New Zealand products and services. 

Free resources available on New Zealand Story’s website include research and a wide range of royalty-free images and videos. For more information visit

Download the full Market Pulse Research pack here: Market Pulse Research 2023

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