Marketers Must Keep Up With The Shifting Demographics Of Australia Or Risk Being Left Behind

Marketers Must Keep Up With The Shifting Demographics Of Australia Or Risk Being Left Behind

In this guest article, Jessica Quiney (pictured, director of strategy, GPJ A/NZ and head of strategy APAC, Project Worldwide) and Monique Machado (creative strategist & marketing manager, GPJ A/NZ) explain how census data is critical for marketers to understand their key demographics in order to avoid being left behind in our ever-shifting world.

Conducted every five years, the census provides information about the ways society is changing. For marketers, who rely on insights about their target audience to fuel the creation of campaigns that will resonate with people, the data from the census is a valuable source of information, particularly statistics about the makeup of our population.

2021 census show millennials overtaking boomers

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has recently released the first tranche of data from the 2021 census, a snapshot of the nation during Covid-19, which reveals insights into religion, identity and how Australians live. The data shows that Australia’s millennial generation (people born between 1981 and 1996) is becoming the nation’s largest, displacing the postwar baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964). Generation Z, those aged 10 to 24, account for 18% while Gen X, those aged 40 to 54, account for 19.3% of all Australians.

Baby boomers and millennials each have over 5.4 million people, with only 5,662 more baby boomers than millennials counted on 10 August 2021. However, the number of baby boomers, as a proportion of the population, has fallen from 25.4% in 2011 to 21.5%, while millennials have climbed from 20.4% to level pegging at 21.5 per cent.

Millennials are the drivers of the experience economy

A study by Harris Group found that the millennial generation, this growing cohort accounting for more than a fifth of our population, not only highly values experiences, but are increasingly spending time and money on them: 72% of millennials would rather open their wallets based on experiences rather than on physical things. This pre-pandemic insight is truer now than ever before.

Halfway through the third year of the pandemic, the appetite for experiences among millennials and Gen Z has remained consistent; what has changed is the format of the experiences they wish to engage with. The last two years have seen widespread digital adoption as people were empowered to work, shop, and connect with others from the comfort of their own homes. Coupled with a yearning to return to normal is an expectation that instead of returning to the way things were, innovation will shape the future of work, culture, and entertainment.

Takeaways for experiential marketers

The shift in the generational makeup of the population is important for brands and businesses who are seeking to reach and influence particular audiences as part of their marketing efforts. These handy hints may help experiential marketers navigate the challenges they face in light of our ever-evolving population:

1. Bring people together again

69% of millennials believe attending events makes them feel more connected to other people, the
community, and the world. Furthermore, 56% of millennials cite the possibility to network or meet
new people as their primary motivation for attending a brand event.

We spent lockdowns dreaming about shared experiences and this generation is actively seeking out opportunities to gather in person once again to share moments of delight, pleasure, and fun.

To satiate this need for human connection, marketers must build shared experiences around their products and services to increase positive brand associations and in turn brand preference, loyalty and equity.

2. Give people choice

According to BCG, post Covid -19, the amount of time millennials spend on various forms of at-home and mobile digital media to entertain themselves and socialise is what sets them apart from other generations. 62% have increased their time spent on social media (versus 42% for older generations), 70% have increased their time spent on video streaming (versus 61% for older generations), and 59% have increased their time spent gaming (versus 35% for older generations).

Post-pandemic, people, particularly millennials, want choice about when and how they engage in in-person experiences. They want the best of both worlds, to retain the flexibility that virtual experiences provide, whilst also expecting the opportunity to connect physically with others once again.

Marketers need to create experiences that give power to people, no matter the place, time or device. Putting customer engagement and interactions on this new trajectory will nurture richer customer relationships.

3. Embrace innovative technologies

68% of Gen Z and 63% of millennials are interested in learning more about the metaverse. 61% reported interest in attending live music events in the metaverse and 56% said they would consider attending live sporting events; in contrast, these figures came in at just 25% and 19% among baby boomers. Beyond the hype around the metaverse, there is also significant interest in other technologies such as augmented reality. According to the 2021 Consumer AR Global Report, Gen Z and millennials are 71% more likely to use AR more frequently than any other generation.

There is significant interest among these generations to explore the potential that innovative technologies and virtual environments offer. The opportunity is not to replace in-person experiences, but to enhance and expand social opportunities.

4. Create unmissable experiences

Nearly 7 out of 10 (69%) millennials experience FOMO (fear of missing out). Furthermore, happy
millennials share their positive experiences with 17 people on average and this is one of the key drivers of this feeling.

FOMO has been exacerbated by lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that fundamentally changed the way we lived during the pandemic, particularly among millennials. It drives millennials’ experiential appetite and is an essential ingredient for enticing them to show up for physical experiences. Leveraging advocates and creating a sense of exclusivity to embed brands in their customers’ social currency is a powerful tool for marketers.

5. Ensure sustainability is front and centre

According to a recent study, more than 90% of Australians are concerned about the environment
and sustainability and more than two in three millennials would happily pay a higher price to guarantee sustainability. Further research shows that there is a global paradigm shift in how customers view sustainability, with millennials more environmentally conscious than their predecessors. As millennials increasingly embrace sustainability, they seek brands that align with their values.

This increased demand for decarbonisation and sustainability to drive broader and deeper climate action is impossible for brands to ignore. An authentic commitment to sustainability is a differentiating factor to drive growth; business leaders must examine and reframe their brand strategies to have sustainability at the core of their value proposition and value chain.


The experience economy is expected to be worth $12 billion by 2023. Fuelled by millennials, a growing proportion of the Australian population, this is likely to continue exponentially. The generational shift revealed in the latest census will have a profound impact on the makeup of the
audiences that marketers are curating experiences for.

It is crucial that we understand the attitudes and behaviours of millennials so that we can create human-centred experiences – in any format, on any channel – that resonate with this audience. This will ensure that we can foster meaningful connections between businesses and brands and their evolving, multi-generational audiences.

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