Havas Report: Bad News For Brands? Aussies Embracing “Joyful Frugality”

Havas Report: Bad News For Brands? Aussies Embracing “Joyful Frugality”

An evaluation of what makes us happy has put mass consumerism at risk of extinction in place of a simpler, more wholesome and more frugal life; a new research report by Havas has found.  

The Havas 2023 Prosumer Report (which you can read in full HERE), which was conducted in over 30 markets, including Australia, reveals the long-adopted consumer patterns to be changing in Australian society. With a renewed consumer focus on solving cultural, societal and survival issues spurred on by the climate crisis, depleting global resources and a decrease in purchasing power, Havas’ 2023 Prosumer Report explores a shift in what’s needed; and what Australians are willing to do, to adapt a more frugal lifestyle in a world built around overconsumption. 

The research explores how Prosumers expect to change behaviours to reconcile consumption habits with their happiness, as well as a view on the heightened demand for brands to act responsibly in addressing consumption issues.  

Prosumers are consumers who are doing today what the mainstream will adopt in the future. They are influential forward thinkers, with the influence and economic impact to shift brand choice and the consumption behaviours of others. 

Joyful Frugality 

Two thirds of Prosumer Aussies agree they could be happy in a more frugal and less excessive world, with 67 per cent deriving happiness from ‘a satisfaction with simple things in life’. Whether this comes from a deeper connection to our natural world, an emphasis on community, more time with family or prioritising leisure over work; Australia is one of the top countries around the globe to believe the strongest appeals of frugal living are working less and spending more time with family (63 per cent), a life closer to nature (66 per cent), and a life where we are more focused on others (52 per cent). 

Frugality vs Freedom 

For Australia particularly, the undercurrent of sacrifice has loomed prevalent through the ‘covid years’ with the nation giving up more in terms of freedoms than many others. Whilst we remain overwhelmingly aligned that happiness and frugality can co-exist, a heightened tension for what this means for our independence lingers. 

The contradictions are evident, as Aussies are aware of what needs to change in our society, yet 39 per cent believe frugality imposes too many restrictions on their comfort and freedoms to travel and to consume.  

Paying for the Planet 

For Aussies frugality motivations sit firmly with mother earth, with 71 per cent changing their ways to benefit the planet. But getting to an eco-paradise won’t be free despite the clear appetite to do more – with consumers reluctant to personally foot the bill.  

Even though 78 per cent of Aussies say we need radical action to combat climate change, Australia is less likely to want to pay more taxes to finance the ecological transition (27 per cent), compared to other nations (38 per cent).  Who should be financially responsible? Some 75 per cent of Australian prosumers believe the companies making the most profit should be the first ones paying for the ecological transition. 

The age of #DeInfluencing 

The past couple of decades have seen the birth of online influencers, many of whom celebrate excess, wealth, and privilege. Now, we’re seeing a countertrend with the rise of anti-consumption influencers. TikTok’s #deinfluencing tag spotlights overhyped products that fail to deliver, while YouTube has an “anti-hauls” section that showcases products people are refusing to buy, sometimes because of their eco-impact.  

Who are Australian’s following? Those who are spending, buying and doing less. 77% of Aussie prosumers admire those who have made the transition to a more frugal lifestyle.  

The buck stops with (Big) Brands  

Some 80 per cent of Aussie prosumers believe it’s up to brands and companies to make a frugal future more desirable. For the brands that continue to stick their head in the sand, 64 per cent of Aussies are more likely to boycott products or companies that do not act for the climate, above the global average, while 41 per cent of Aussie prosumers want to ban black Friday advertising to help a transition into a more desirable, frugal world.  

What can brands do? Some 82 per cent of Aussie prosumers are more willing to make efforts if they could measure the impact of their actions, suggesting social and personal currency in frugality – making it even more important for brands/companies to contribute to this education where they can. 

Becoming Essential 

Olly Taylor, chief strategy officer, Havas Creative Group Australia said of the findings: “With the increasing cost of living, looming recessions, and deflating global resources, frugal living is becoming desirable for more Australians. The Havas 2023 Prosumer report shows us that whilst consumers do see a more frugal future as a joyful one, they are conflicted about toning down their own consumption. Brands that lead the way in making frugality desirable could ironically reap the reward.”

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The Havas 2023 Prosumer Report

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