Australians are shifting away from conformity into a time of rebellion not seen since the 1960s and 1970s, and at a much faster rate than expected, according to new research.
The study, released this week, also shows that if governments, organisations and brands do not recognise this new, rebellious view among consumers and alter behaviour accordingly, they will not survive.
The trends are outlined in the latest Millennium Monitor – produced by research consultancy Colmar Brunton – which measures the mood of Australian society by examining social values and community sentiment. It then categorises them into four main ‘macro eras’; Conformity, Rebellion, Power and Enjoyment. The study has been run six times in the past 20 years, showing clear shifts in how Australians are thinking, feeling and behaving/
Colmar Brunton CEO Joan Young said the 2018 study demonstrates that while the prevailing social sentiment is still one of ‘Conformity’, an increasing number are moving away from their traditional, socially conservative views and looking for greater fairness, personal empowerment and taking individual responsibility.
In 2016, 55 per cent of Australians identified with Conformity; but latest figures show these values rapidly falling with just 42 per cent now seeing it as their dominant value.
“Australians who relate to Conformity are driven by fear and have an underlying need for security and stability, and work hard to achieve it. They are aware of the risks in the world and manage their lives accordingly. In addition, they expect and trust traditional institutions like Governments to do the right thing and protect us,” she explained.
“But in the past few years, Australians are becoming increasingly sceptical of large organisations and corporations. Royal Commissions, privacy issues, political leadership changes and revelations of widespread corruption and self-interest have eroded the trust people in Conformity want to have in others. More and more consumers are becoming disillusioned with the large institutions they have trusted for decades, and are painfully transitioning to recognise they need to take matters into their own hands. People are disappointed and angry and increasingly prepared to take radical action to protect themselves and stand up for what they think is right. And it appears that Australians are moving into Rebellion in rapidly growing numbers.”
This view is supported by the latest data; in 2016 there were just 18 per cent of Australians who identified with Rebellion; but that figure has now grown to 25 per cent of the population, with the increase being driven mainly by young males. In 2016 the movement was led by young females.
Young said 2017 was a ‘tipping point’ in Australia, when an increasing number of people recognised that instead of waiting for others to lead, they would have to start to fight for fairness.
“The overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote was an example of this tipping point, along with Australia Day protests earlier this year. It’s also likely the Royal Commission into the Banking industry further ‘tipped’ more Australians from Conformity to Rebellion. We expect this trend to continue to grow quickly in the next few years, and it will be manifested in all sorts of ways including the lifestyle, political and purchasing choices Australians make,” she said.
Colmar Brunton national sector head for FMCG, Dr Denise Hamblin, said association with Rebellion also means that any brand, leader or organisation that puts their own interests above those of the general population will find themselves increasingly unpopular and unable to connect with consumers.
“The trajectory into Rebellion is also reflected in how we view brands, with those viewed most positively offering ‘distinct value’ and showing they are prepared to listen and fight for Australians.”
Hamblin said the research showed brands that are likely to benefit from the shift include Headspace, Bunnings, Kmart and the RSPCA.
“Consumers want to feel that they are being communicated to in a transparent way, that they are being treated fairly, and that they are buying from companies that recognise their needs and circumstances” Hamblin explained. “This means that brands offering personalised experiences and empowering choices, and those that behave honestly rather than just describing themselves as honest, will reap the rewards of loyalty in this changing social environment.”
Other key results from the 2018 Millennium Monitor show:
• Baby Boomers are most proud to be Australian (62 per cent ) but our younger generation feels otherwise, with just 34 per cent of Millennials proud to be Australian
• Australians are looking for more enjoyment from life than before; 24 per cent saying it is their most important value compared with 20 per cent in 2016
• Australians feel that we are in limbo about the environment believing there is plenty of noise, but no consistent action
• The ‘macro era’ that the least number of Australians relate to is Power (just nine per cent ); defined by those who value elite performance, and believe technological advancements have the power to overcome societal issues. However, this has grown since 2016 (seven per cent). Health also appears to be a major concern for Australians, with research showing:
• 59 per cent of Australians believe obesity is the greatest health concern for our country
• 43 per cent said it was cancer
• 42 per cent believe it is mental wellbeing
“Brands that focus on self-management of health issues are likely to be the most successful, with Australians showing they value those that focus on overall health and a balanced lifestyle the most,” Hamblin continued.
“By contrast, many are increasingly distrustful of self-governed labelling and health rating systems.”