Seismic shifts in Australia’s demographics this year will mean that Generations Y and beyond (Australians born since 1980) will become the largest proportion of the population, our regional cities will emerge as lifestyle cities and our cultural diversity and generational change will, in an election year, reshape the national conversation and shake-up the traditional Australian self-image.
Here are 6 key social and demographic trends for 2019 from Mark McCrindle.
1. Simplicity as a service
After a decade of digital disruption and increasing velocity of change, 2019 will mark a year of Australians seeking simplicity. The ABS states that 35% of Australian men and 42% of Australian women state that they are always or often rushed or pressed for time. In a world of screen saturation, 24/7 expectations and always-on technologies, the year ahead will see Australians not so much turn technology off, but to turn on apps and solutions to make their life function more efficiently. People are increasingly happy to spend money to gain time. More than just an extension of the outsourcing trend, consumers will pay a premium for simplicity and seek ways to reduce the chaos and rebalance life.
2. Refining the Australian identity
The year ahead will bring a federal election and a state election in NSW and with these, lots of policy discussions and national conversations in who we are, and as a nation, where we want to go. In addition, the republic/monarchy debate will continue along as well as our place in the world and our ongoing connection with Europe and North America amidst our increasing connection with Asia. As the most culturally diverse nation in the developed world, the discussions about migration, population growth and the Australian identity will have a more reflective tone in a nation that rarely gets introspective.
3. New generations dominate
From 2019, there will be more Australians born since 1980 than before 1980. This means that Generation Y (born from 1980 to 1994) and Generation Z (born from 1995 to 2009) and Generation Alpha (born since 2010) will comprise more than half of the population. Additionally, from 2019, Generations Y and Z will comprise the majority of the workforce- outnumbering Generations X and the Baby Boomers for the first time. This demographic and economic strength will see Gen Y and Z dominate as workers, consumers, new household formers and therefore as the key demographic to engage with.
The Australian economy is performing solidly with low unemployment at 5%, low interest rates and positive, though modest economic growth. However, 2019 will continue to reveal a loss in capital city house price value, high rental and utilities costs and slow wages growth. All of this will heighten the perception of Australians having wealth declines and tight household budgets. While Australia is entering its 28th year since the last recession, and the fundamentals are a long way from a contraction, the consumer sentiment is starting to respond as though we are in a mild one. From a householder perspective, spending behaviours will be prudent, big expenses delayed and the general consumer attitude be not quite recessionary- but perhaps recessionette.
5. Rise of the lifestyle cities
While Australia’s capital cities are home to 16 million people, more than 8 million, live in regional Australia. Of the one in three Australians living outside of the capitals, most of them live in regional cities which are Australia’s lifestyle cities offering the benefits of the capitals without the congestion, infrastructure bottlenecks and affordability challenges. 2019 will see a continued focus on the regions from policy and spending initiatives to better transport connections to open up the opportunities for the regions. Many of these regional centres were the first to get NBN and with this a booming business economy, a thriving tertiary sector and the relocation of business and government offices. The new focus on getting migrants into the regions, matching investment and services to this population growth, and the affordability premium offered by the regions will see Australians take another look at these growing lifestyle cities.
6. The power of trust
The last few years have seen Royal Commissions and other inquiries refocus and recalibrate Australians’ trust. Few sectors have been immune, from religious and political entities to corporations in the financial sector, to aged care providers to social media and tech companies, trust has been eroded. The year ahead will see consumers value trust, whether it be in a brand, person or entity above price, promise or experience. Those who can gain and keep trust, through transparency, and values-based offerings will thrive in the trust-as-premium environment.