Turn tension to triumph: What Australians demand of brands in 2021

 Paul Labagnara
By Paul Labagnara | 6 July 2021
Paul Labagnara

Paul Labagnara, co-founder of The Lab. 

Right now, brands and marketers are faced with a real opportunity to step up and fill a void in the lives of Australians. The past 15 or so months have affected the national psyche by creating a perceived pressure to stay positive, despite a rising number of tensions in the daily lives of Aussies. For marketers, now is the time to be a voice in the dark for Australian consumers. The results will speak for themselves.

The findings of our recent Australia Project 2021 report show 76% of Australians agree they “feel now more than ever, that people and organisations should be held accountable for what they do and don’t do”. This is up from 73% in 2020 and is the number one tension point identified by the nation.

So, what does this mean and how can your brand step up? The messaging Australians want to hear largely falls into two categories: they want bands to connect with them on a greater willingness to appreciate the lives they have, or they want brands to help them find ways to experience new things – in short, Aussies want more “dare” in their lives.

What they don’t want to hear are false promises or meaningless statements. Australians want actionable change: 47% of people agree that, “we’re supposed to be in it together, but it doesn’t feel that way to me”. Because people are sick of hearing we are in this together from brands and marketers who then do nothing to make good on the statement. It’s become a blanket statement; nothing more than a perfunctory cultural buy-in.

This becomes even more important when we look at where your audience is located. People in regional Australia are more likely to agree with the above statement (56%) versus those in cities (44%). This largely stems from the media and news focussing a bulk of reporting in urban parts of Australia, namely Sydney and Melbourne. Regional Australia has been left feeling unconsidered and unheard in the pandemic, meaning you can expect localised marketing efforts to yield a phenomenal response, as long as your messaging can provide genuine support.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic has had a bigger impact in some areas on Victorians than people in other states. Fifty-five per cent of Victorians agree with the statement, “COVID-19 has changed the way I think about my state”, compared with 45% of Queenslanders and 44% of people in NSW. When presented with the statement “The life I was longing for throughout lockdown doesn’t feel as fulfilling in reality”, 41% of Victorians agreed compared with 38% in NSW and 35% in Queensland.

Across the board, females rank higher across all tensions aside from one: “We’re supposed to be in it together but it doesn’t feel that way to me”. We’re seeing the largest percentage point discrepancy, of 18 points, between males and females agreeing with “the events of this past year have left me feeling flat and exhausted”, at 39% and 57% respectively.

Tensions are still high for us all, and based on current events, they’re not going away any time soon. The good news is that Australians want brands to step in. They want accountability. They want to feel seen, heard and recognised by genuine interactions. Even broad audience segments like gender or region provide big clues as to how those interactions should sound – it’s never been more important for marketers to listen.

Paul Labagnara is co-founder of the leading insight and strategy company The Lab. The “Australia Project 2021” study is based on research among 1,500 Australians aged 18 and older, conducted nationally with its strategic insights partner, Nature.


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