New Research reveals secrets of Gen Y consumers

By Wright Communications

The research, released this week by Colmar Brunton, segments 15-30 year old Kiwis into what it calls Gen Y Tribes, based on their responses to questions about how they live their lives.

Research project leader and Colmar Brunton Youth Specialist Spencer Willis says the research provides unprecedented insights and is potentially enormously valuable for businesses because of what Gen Y represents.

"Gen Y is a generation that will rival the size of the boomers and their decades of heaviest consumption are still ahead of them. They are already growing up, starting families, building lives and buying big ticket items as well as everyday products.

"They are the consumers of the future and this research gives significant insights into the things that push their buttons."

While Gen Y spans the 15-30 age group, currently 16% of New Zealand's population are classed within Gen Y and over 18 years of age. That is set to rise rapidly with 18+ Gen Y consumers making up 24% of the market within five years.

The Gen Y Tribes research sought to understand Kiwi youth by questioning them about their aspirations and goals, money, free time, media, relationships, shopping habits and consumption preferences.

The research segments Gen Y Kiwis into six distinct tribes based on their responses:

  • Ladder climbers - 'going for gold'
  • Idealists - 'I'm true to myself'
  • Solitary savers - 'staying out of the limelight'
  • Family focused - 'home and hearth'
  • Spontaneous spenders - 'live for the now'
  • Money = status - 'what's in it for me?'

Mr Willis says the diversity of this country's youth and the broad range of insights the research provides become obvious when you look at a snapshot of two of the Gen Y tribes.


Idealists are mainly aged 15-18 years, males and females, still living with their parents, and are less likely to have iPhones than other tribes. They are generally happy with their life and looks and avoid unhealthy foods. They are less likely to be financial decision makers and have debts but they do have savings accounts. Other common responses for idealists reveal that they avoid celebrity gossip, have actively chosen their career path, prefer team sports, consume sports drinks, would like to spend less time on the internet, are getting sick of Facebook, like to get their news from official sources, don't let friends drive drunk and are happily single - among other things.

Spontaneous spenders

Spontaneous spenders are mainly female, on below average incomes, less happy with their looks and life, do not avoid unhealthy foods and are less likely to own vehicles, houses or tablets. They are not financial decision makers and they are less likely to have savings accounts. Other common responses for spontaneous spenders highlight that they enjoy celebrity gossip, are regular internet and social media users, watch TV for longer, have no idea where their money goes or how to realise their career goals, shop at fast food outlets and don't plan anything for their free time, avoid activities where they could get hurt, drink RTDs, are more likely to be smokers and eat instant noodles.

Mr Willis says these two examples barely scratch the surface of what the research reveals not only about what young Kiwis buy and consume, and where they get their information but also what motivates them.

He says Colmar Brunton's motivation for undertaking the research was to help demystify youth, break down stereotypes and help people understand what drives the different tribes who make up Gen Y Kiwis.

"People are inclined to generalise about youth, often negatively, and my mission is to smash that apart," Mr Willis says. "We need to stop fearing youth and start understanding them."



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