Smallholder farmers are heterogeneous in terms of resource endowments, production orientation and access to markets. An understanding of these factors and how they influence local perceptions and responsiveness to climate variability has potential to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The objective of this study was to understand the major factors that contribute to heterogeneity across households and across sites and to understand how different households respond to climate variability induced hazards. Cross-sectional data was collected using a household questionnaire from 300 randomly selected households from Seke and Murewa districts in Zimbabwe but only 299 questionnaires were used for analysis. Principal component analysis was used to identify uncorrelated factors. The multinomial logit model was used to determine the influence of household characteristics on farmers’ perceptions and logit model was used to ascertain the influence of socioeconomic factors and perceptions on responsiveness. Findings showed that households that are heterogeneous in religion; direct personal experiences; and access to weather information have different perceptions to climate variability induced hazards. Empirical results from multinomial regression analysis showed that socioeconomic factors such as distance to the market and access to credit information have a significant influence on perceptions but human capital-related and gender-related characteristics have an insignificant influence on farmers’ perceptions. Econometric investigation using logistic regression model revealed that socioeconomic factors have an influence on responsiveness but perceptions do not influence responsiveness; this could be so because there are other underlying factors related to adaptive capacity which are limiting farmers in responding to hazards. The overall conclusion is that differences in access to markets and credit result in heterogeneity in farmers’ perceptions. In terms of policy implications this means that improvement of access to markets and credit is very crucial to improve farmers’ responsiveness to climate variability induced hazards.