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5 strategists comment on Australian consumer insights for 2023

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‘Find opportunities, not excuses’ was the message shared on GfK’s Insight Forum, which revealed research into Australian consumer trends for 2023. The survey found that 44% of Australian consumers feel it is important to treat or pamper themselves on a regular basis.

According to GfK, which tracks consumer behavior insights and provides data analysis across 30 markets, this sentiment is consistent with increased consumption of entertainment, health, work, study, cleaning and dining products and services. The report further noted that marketers have the opportunity to take advantage of product category premiumization — a trend that is fueling strong sales value growth. The issue of data accessibility was also highlighted as critical to helping brands gain a competitive advantage by leveraging accurate consumer data.

In response to this new research, LBB’s Esther Faith Lew asked five leading Australian strategy leaders what they think about expected consumer trends and what’s on their radar this year.

Graham Alvarez-Jaratt

Strategy partner, dentsu Creative ANZ

2022 was the year when an ongoing health crisis met an emerging economic crisis. After more than 1,000 days of negotiating a pandemic, an understandably weary Australian public was now faced with rising petrol prices and mortgage payments.

Despite (or more likely because of) these concerns, Australians are increasingly seeking moments of calm. As GfK’s vision indicates, 44% say it is important to ‘let yourself go’ on a regular basis. It seems that we want to enjoy life again.

Which reminds me of the other thing that happened in 2022 – ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. A critical, commercial and cultural hit, Tom Cruise and his merry band of pilots took us into the literal clouds and helped us forget about the proverbial clouds gathering on the horizon. In 2023, I’d like to see brands try to do something similar. To make people happy. Entertaining, not just communicating. Delivering joy, however short.

Will you come with me, Gans?

Robert Campbell

Chief Strategy Officer, Colenso BBDO

It’s dead easy to be an asshole with investigative reports. Not because of what is identified, but the way it is expressed. A tone as if you hear it directly from God. I say this because I will be an asshole.

While I appreciate the findings, my problem is the implications. The simplistic leap from what people do to what marketers should be doing. No explanation of what drove it… no context for how it differentiated itself from other markets… no exploration of how this conflicts or plays against cultural values… no understanding of what “premium” means per audience or category or inspiration… simply: ‘marketers can benefit from category premiumization’.

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This does not mean that there is no interesting information in it, but that’s all. And to say they are ‘Australian trends’ is quite an exaggeration. We’re better than this. Australians are more interesting than this. And while understanding habits plays an important role for marketers, having a sense of why – rather than what – is where the real value of research is realized.

Jody Elston

Head of Strategy, 303 MullenLowe Sydney

2023 is an opportunity to “frame value” in smart ways. We all know that the big theme for 2023 is the cost of living crisis. Consumers will inevitably trade in or opt for private label for more elastic everyday items as they revert to some of the pandemic behavior of spending more time at home — whether for food or entertainment — to save money. But I think what the GfK data shows us are some smart examples of “framing value” for larger ticket items that are usually likely to decline in tough times. For example, consumers buying an air fryer with some post-rationalization that cooking at home (at speed) is more economical than going out for expensive dinners. Or buy a coffee maker because it saves money on takeaway coffee.

This behavior satisfies a need to enjoy the home where we spend more time, but it is “allowed” because of how choice is framed in our minds. It somehow feels like good value, even though you could spend $300. And we’ve been here before. For example during the global financial crisis [of the 2010s]Foxtel cleverly devised subscription (which was seen as an extravagance at the time) as a smarter and more fun way to manage money and cherish family time with ‘The Good News Sale’.

The message for marketers in 2023 is to keep investing in brand priming. We know from past recession data that pulling out will affect your brand’s market share growth over five years. But there is also an opportunity to be smart about how you shape your brand story to build a greater sense of value – without moving to a completely new space and giving up long-term differentiators.”

Alice Gillis

Head of Strategy, Host/Havas

At a time of year when trend reports are flying around, the concept of ‘opportunities, no excuses’ in the GfK 2023 report caught my eye. As consumer behaviour, attitudes and interests change at an ever-accelerating pace, data ownership is the only source of truth that will help brands navigate this environment.

However, as the GFK report points out, few marketers can move quickly from collecting data to actionable insights. Without the ability to streamline this process, brands miss out. As covid showed us, brands that can quickly use their own data to take advantage of changing behaviors stand head and shoulders above the rest. And so in an environment that requires adaptability, maybe not being able to do it fast enough is no longer a good excuse.

Ryan O’Connell

chief strategy officer, Ogilvy Australia

I’m bastardizing Newton’s Third Law, but this article proves that the physics of any action that causes a reaction isn’t something limited to motion – it’s also relevant in marketing. The impact of ‘hybrid environments’ and people now spending more time at home has led to many a gloomy headline – rightly highlighting that this behavior is negatively impacting some categories and companies. Yet it is clear that many also benefit, as the data shows.

In fact, someone smarter than me might even decide to come up with a smart marketing principle for it. Something along the lines of: ‘Every negative scenario for one brand creates an equally positive scenario for another brand’. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the corner. As marketers, we need to embrace this uncertainty, because such unexpected twists and turns can present the opportunity your brand has subconsciously been waiting for.