Olivia Parker
Aug 20, 2018

New Zealand's top mobile brands

We asked in-market experts to explain what ASB Bank and others are doing right.

ASB Bank
ASB Bank

As part of our look at New Zealand's top brands of 2018, which is part of our Asia’s Top 1000 Brands report, we found that New Zealand consumers see Google, Facebook and ASB Bank as the top mobile-friendly brands, with AZ, Kiwi Bank, and Vodafone also rating highly. We asked in-market observers for their insights.

How do you react to these results? What are these brands doing right on mobile?

Andrew Barron, MD of Interbrand NZ: Yes, that seems about right when you consider the prominence of Google and Facebook in everyone’s lives. The thing that stands out is the brands on the list are all overtly connected to mobile technology.

In the case of ASB, their entire marketing communications focuses on ‘one step ahead’ positioning them as the progressive bank, which in turn has led ANZ and other banks to converge on the same space. So in one way these brands are directly talking to consumers about mobile solutions and therefore are top of mind. Potentially these brands are well placed to use their mobile centric reputation, but the real test is how well they use that to build relationships. More important than the channel, going forward, is how good they are at talking to people in the right way and serving their needs.

Ian Howard, Chief Strategy Officer, Little Giant: I think when it comes to brands that are top of mind for mobile consumers, it makes perfect sense that those brands that are most interacted with on mobile are those that come to mind. So this is a case of usage driving top of mindness, rather than the other way around. What all those brands have is a mobile experience that’s genuinely useful—for Google that’s search, for Facebook that’s social connectivity, for the banks that’s a mobile banking app that allows you to manage your banking on the go. It’s less a measure of quality experiences, as of utility delivered through mobile that means consumers will use it regardless of whether it’s actually optimized for the mobile screen.

Certainly many of the banking apps in New Zealand are heavily used despite being fairly poor
experiences, rather than because of the experience they offer. The critical nature of the utility
offered outstrips the substandard quality of experience.

Dan West, digital strategy director, FCB: Google and Facebook are mobile first brands and therefore it stands to reason they are seen as mobile friendly. The reason why the other four are seen as mobile friendly is the utility of their mobile apps. Each one of them has a simple UX and offers valuable information such as seeing data used or money spent in real-time or accessing bills. They also promote their mobile app offering and therefore users are more aware of it. ASB bank in particular is seen as an innovative brand in New Zealand and trials new technology. The brand has whole heartedly embraced mobile with its site and even its social content being mobile optimised. I was slightly surprised to not see Air New Zealand, which is another strong player in the mobile space, although probably less engaged with as more people will check their money or data usage than fly regularly. Based on this I would say the ‘always on’ nature of their mobile products play a role.

The other reason I feel these brands perform well is that their app offering is uncomplicated, single minded and valuable. 

Which social media platforms can really make or break brands in New Zealand? Can you give us some brand examples?

Barron: Facebook and Instagram are hugely influential. Iconic homegrown brands have done well on these platforms, such as Jucy rentals or Allbirds shoes, with something genuine to say about their product and mindset. Twitter has been incredibly powerful for brands, when they create remarkable experiences and are picked up by independent endorsers. Ferg Burger has been celebrated through this channel by everyone from Brian O’Driscoll to Ed Sheeran purely on the basis of a great brand experience.

One thing I believe about social media platforms is that the lines are blurring and brands should pick up on this. Going back to Ferg Burger, a lot of their brand strength and customer visits are driven by Lonely Planet or Frommers, which have become their own sort of social channel when you think of seeking out experiences. Brands should find their own voice and be great their own way, not clogging social media with messaging.

Howard: I’m not sure any brands can really be made, but they certainly can be broken on social media. Social media used to be seen as the silver bullet of an earned media strategy—this “viral” was on more marketing briefs than you could shake a stick at. But virality is now a long shot, free media doesn’t exist any more and social media is a channel like any other where you pay to get in front of an audience and use reach and frequency planning to drive brand salience.

The emergence of micro-influencers has confused the landscape and now social media salience driving is a delicate balance of brand-led communications, genuine advocate interactions and paid influencer reach. I say delicate because if you get this wrong you could face serious backlash among a consumer audience that is increasingly quick to vent its anger. You need to be prepared with a clear crisis management plan if you’re going to play in this highly emotive and highly inauthentic space.

West: Facebook dominates in New Zealand although, as it is globally, the site is primarily the domain of an older audience, over 25. Instagram also continues its upward trend in this market across all demographics. Snapchat is a firm favourite in New Zealand amongst the teen audience, though it has had to compete with Instagram Stories with a number of users slowly choosing that over Instagram – especially with its recent UX challenges.


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