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7 November 2015

Mitre 10 research reveals the most ‘Kiwi’ colour

Green has been nominated the most Kiwi colour, according to research released today by New Zealand’s leading home improvement and building supply company Mitre 10.

The company has been researching how New Zealanders feel about paint and colour, with more than 1,400 people taking part.

The majority of respondents (23%) voted green as the most Kiwi colour, as it echoes the clean green image of the country and references the landscape. Other popular Kiwi colours included cream (15%), black (11%), white (11%) and beige (10%). Respondents who chose neutral colours as a ‘Kiwi’ colour believed it tapped into national traits of ‘playing it safe’, being understated and being conservative.

A generational difference was observed with baby boomers and pre-baby boomers favouring cream (20% and 27%), and Gen Xers and Gen Y favouring black (14% and 10%).

The research has tapped into an integral part of New Zealand culture and how Kiwis see themselves, says Mitre 10 General Manager Marketing Dave Elliott.

“People see green as an earthy colour and one representative of our landscape,” Mr Elliott said. “Many of us live surrounded by nature, so green reminds us of grass and trees. Meanwhile, cream, beige and white are seen as very ‘safe’ colours, which ties in with our very New Zealand trait of being understated. Many people also opted for black because of our sporting teams, and for them it represents success.”

When it comes to choosing colour for interior decorating, most people stick to neutrals (72%), while a small minority goes for bold colours (15%). This finding plays out in colour choice by room, with neutrals such as white, cream, beige, or shades of brown or gray being the top colours throughout the house. Bathrooms and the shed or garage are most likely to be white, while cream is the predominant colour throughout the rest of the house, and light shades are more popular than dark shades.

“And while people often opt to play it safe with neutrals, our research shows that they enjoy using colour in easily removable features such as curtains and accessories, rather than more permanent features such as walls or carpet,” Mr Elliott said.

“We also see that people take a greater interest in painting when it’s for the interior of a property. Sixty-four per cent of people have repainted at least some of the interior of their current property compared to 40% who have painted the exterior. Personal preference is the biggest factor in colour choice (64%), while a further 29% think about the mood a colour will evoke and 20% give consideration to how it will affect the on-sale price of their home.”

The research also looked at colour by decade, and the strongest colour-to-decade association was orange with the 1970s, followed by white for 2010 to the present and cream for the 2000s.

Phil Dunstan-Brown, Creative Director at design agency DNA, says colour preference is driven by the emotional and psychological state of the chooser. “It’s also driven by their life experience and their environment, so colour preference is endless,” Mr Dunstan-Brown said.

“Plucked out of the air, green does seem a natural choice for respondents and it’s an obvious answer for what constitutes the most Kiwi of colours. It’s a go-to colour for New Zealanders and a reference to the perceived ‘green-ness’ in our landscape.”

Mr Dunstan-Brown said it was a little surprising that black didn’t make a stronger showing in the results, given the current flag debate and our heightened awareness of what it means to be a New Zealander.

“Black consistently beats green if you make a scan of the thousands of design options on the Flag Consideration Project website. But maybe under the circumstances, black is a non-starter, because it is the absence of any colour at all.”

Interviews and an expanded results document are available on request.

Further how-to information is available through Mitre 10’s Easy As guides on how to paint interiors, how to paint exteriors, and how to use paint rollers.