Conducted by Sweeney Research for Grey Worldwide, the study is now in its thirteenth year. Eye on Australia is an annual survey that tracks consumers’ hopes and aspirations, satisfaction with their lives and most importantly their attitudes towards brands, advertising and corporate Australia. Grey Worldwide uses the study to help to develop communications campaigns for its clients.

The Eye on Australia 2004 study revealed that overall, Australians are relatively content with their economic circumstances and 59% of Australians believe we are living in prosperous times.

But the study revealed that there was a yearning in people for more meaning in their lives; identified as a spiritual need and not an economic one. The report suggests this is shaping their attitudes to brands, consumer goods and the corporate world. It also influences what consumers choose to do with their time and money.

The research shows that wellbeing is not a new buzzword, but something that both genders in the mainstream identify with and crave. Some interesting figures highlight the search for meaning and a feeling of wellbeing among Australians:

• 83% of Australians say they are willing to pay more for something that gives them a feeling of wellbeing (so that life’s stresses are like ‘water off a duck’s back’).

• 35% of Australians say they are going to spend more on wellbeing this year – the biggest increases in the study’s thirteen year history.

• 90% of Australians say indulgence is good but the paradigm of indulgence has changed. No longer is it all about having expensive possessions and luxury items. Now, the research shows, that it is about feeling well and being spiritually enriched.

• 71% of Australians say there are too many pressures in the work environment (this has increased by 8% over four years)

• 55% say that technology is causing this stress

More than 90% of Australians say family is the most important part of their life (90% for men, 94% for women) while 70% of Australians would like to live life at a slower pace.

Around 60% of Australians say they do not trust most big corporations and that they are looking for a sense of trust from their local communities. While 85% of Australians feel that a successful company has to have a good presence at a local level.

Paying for the ‘real’ thing

The research shows that Australians are so in need of a feeling of wellbeing that the old paradigm of premium may be changing. One of the least things people will pay more for is a sense of luxury and 89% say they prefer to buy things that are ‘the real thing’ or genuine.

The survey suggests ‘real’ products give people that sense of connection they need. Connection to the past, other people, places and community and they will pay more for these things.

An interesting statistic for designers is the 93% who say they like to know the origin of a product, where it came from and who made it. Nearly 70% say if there is a real person behind the brand they trust it more while just over 80% say it’s easier to trust a brand if it has been around for a long time.

Quality and innovation

For the last two years of the study Australians have emphasised that the most important thing for Australia to become is more inventive.

The Eye on Australia report suggests that invention gives a feeling of wellbeing. It makes people feel all is well with their country. It makes them feel that our culture is progressing and making a difference.

“New ideas are a driver of our culture and therefore we are meaningful if we have thought of them. It’s better than feeling you’re doing what you’re doing just so that you can hold on to what’s around you,” the study said. Other significant findings were:

• 77% of Australians say consumer goods should be of a better quality and 95% say they will pay more for quality.

• 77% of Australians are willing to pay more for something that makes them feel safe, makes them feel relaxed and for something that helps to free up their time.

• 85% of Australians say they are very proud of the things that Australia has invented.

• 83% say they have more respect for a company if they come up with an original way of doing things.

The research revealed that Australians have high expectations when it comes to invention. There is hope that companies will make new things from scratch and make technological breakthroughs. More than 70% believe that Australian brands need to be more innovative and original while 78% said they were willing to pay for something more innovative and original.  

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