1 Trust is (almost) everything
We’re going to say this a lot in this report, and we emphasise it here because it’s absolutely fundamental to establishing a strong brand in any category. If you don’t have trust – in any market but especially in Australia – then you might as well be investing in a house of cards. Part of being trusted is about standing for something – the environment, championing young people, community health, equality, workplace fairness or humanitarian causes. Whatever a brand says it believes, it must keep its promises all the time if it is to retain trust. The public has a finely tuned ear for pledges that turn out to be hollow. Brands need to keep to both the letter and the spirit of their promises to consumers, and be open about ingredients, policies and workplace practices. Fakes will be found out, and fine print is no excuse.
2 Consumer expectations are being Amazon-ed
It’s only been a year since Amazon landed on these shores but, just as it has done elsewhere, it is having a big impact on the way people shop. Those who predicted the instant death of the physical store have been proved wrong, but Amazon’s ease of use, range of services and speed of shipping are setting the bar high – and raising customers’ expectations of what other retailers and service providers should be offering. The Amazon effect is habituating consumers to shopping online, and the low price for joining Prime relative to other markets is ensuring quick take-up – further driving traffic both online and to Amazon. Items are not necessarily cheaper on Amazon than elsewhere, but delivery within two days to metro areas beats many other retailers and trains shoppers to be impatient.
3 Marketing needs to reflect changing views on gender
Gender depictions in advertising have come a long way from the stereotypes of old, but Kantar research shows there are still big opportunities being missed because brands getting it wrong on gender. While marketers might believe they’re usually generating advertising that avoids gender clichés and has men and women represented evenly, consumers think quite differently. Around three-quarters of women and 71 percent of men believe the way they’re portrayed in advertising is completely out of touch. Our data shows that when brands get gender balance more or less equal in advertising, they drive greater brand value, but only around one in three brands in Australia achieves this. The problem could be a failure to target both genders, so potential consumers are excluded from campaigns; insurance providers are a particular offender here. Or the problem could be the content itself. Volkswagen stands out for being inclusive in their targeting for the Polo hatchback, and Uncle Tobys shines for breaking gender stereotypes with authoritative and authentic stories of men and women in its advertising.
4 It’s time for brands to find their voice
Australians are setting up smart speakers in their homes at a rate not seen anywhere else in the world; the voice-activated gadgets now reach 29 percent of the adult population – ahead of the US, where reach is around 26 percent. Voice commands enable consumers and brands to have a different kind of relationship. First, there’s the conversation element of voice-led interactions; brands have long worked to establish a personality and tone of voice in their communications, now they must project that tone quite literally. Then, brands can go beyond answering questions via voice (store opening hours and the like), providing information about promotions and new products, and tailoring information and entertainment to what it knows about the user. There’s also an opportunity for brands to lock in consumer loyalty. When a householder asks their smart speaker to “add biscuits to next week’s supermarket order”, which brand will be the default, and which supermarket, for that matter? Brands that establish themselves as the first choice in a category not only secure future sales, they also lock out the competition.
5 Old is potential gold
When you realize that Kylie Minogue is in her 50s, you know the population is getting older. In fact, low fertility rates and longer life expectancy are fuelling a surge in the number of older people in Australia; over-65s now account for almost 16 percent of the national population (up from 12 percent 20 years ago), and the number of people aged over 85 has risen at four times the pace of general population growth. And with more of the baby boomers approaching retirement age, this is a growing demographic. But they’re not oldies as you might imagine. Gone are the knitting needles and aching knees. This sprightly bunch are not only working well past “retirement age”, they’ve got an appetite for travel, they’re looking after their health, want to look good, and are seeking out cultural experiences and items to beautify their homes. Brands should look for the chance to cater to their needs with sustainable lifestyle services, and should expect rising demand for things like spas, gyms and wearable health-related tech.