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Intelligence Briefs

Talking to a divided nation - Gen Z holds the clues

Industry Contributor

Andrew Knowles, Partner

22 July 2020 3min read

On Monday, The Australian Financial Review shared a first look at the findings from Brand New Australia, a report by research companies The Lab and Nature. The full report is available to the public later today and, while there is certainly a great deal of information already out there regarding the impact of COVID-19, the cultural focus of this particular report points to some key tips brands should be taking on when communicating to the new Australia.

  • A study of 6,000 people has identified 65% of Australians believe the pandemic is the reset we needed to look at how we live
  • 54% are using COVID-19 to re-evaluate how they spend money while 48% expect financial difficulty over the next few years
  • The report explains that Australians can be categorised into five distinct groups based on their attitudes:
    • Safety Seekers (the largest group at 26%) who are worried about the future, largely due to health concerns
    • Strugglers (18%) whose concerns are centred on their financial security
    • Opportunists (20%) who are excited about the future
    • Simplifiers (18%) who are looking to change their lives post-COVID-19
    • Returners (16%) those who are ready to return to the way life was before

My Takeout

The Lab and Nature certainly paint a picture of a more concerned and cautious Australia than brands may have anticipated – highlighting that even before the recent outbreak in Victoria and now New South Wales, a quell in new cases and emergence from isolation had not boosted consumer confidence in the way we may have expected.

So, what does this mean for brands? How can you provide meaningful communication to a largely concerned audience, most of whom are looking to shift their spending behaviour?

Simple – understand them. Of course it sounds obvious, but in practice it may be a little more difficult given the nation is broken into five distinct groups. Having said that, the full report does reveal some common ground: 65% of Australians will buy from local and independent stores, 67% will choose products with minimal or sustainable packaging and 62% will purchase or subscribe to things made by trustworthy brands.

In short, the nation’s collective attitude toward spending seems to be leaning closer to the attitudes of Gen Z than ever before. That is to say, if your product’s messaging is trying to galvanise an otherwise divided nation, it’s going to have to have genuine purpose, it’s going to have to be ethically sound and you have to expect that whatever claims you are making will be thoroughly scrutinised – people are spending more time in front of their devices after all. To learn more about exactly what makes that relevant to Gen Z, check anything that’s come out of Cannes in the last two years.

This is no longer the exclusive opinion of an emerging (albeit powerful) consumer category, but the attitude of a nation with renewed priorities. Equally well, that does not mean now is the time to greenwash your brand or join in on the same sort of bandwagon-esque communication we saw at the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve all heard plenty about the pitfalls of doing so... We know in these “unprecedented” times things aren’t what they were and we’re more than aware Australia is in this together.

What it does mean is that it’s time to localise your comms. Right now, there’s one clear purpose Australians are asking brands to serve, and that’s to provide genuine support at the local level. It may seem daunting but, as McKinsey & Company suggest, rewiring your marketing’s operating model to provide granular presence at scale is a great starting point to maximise your ROI.

Use your existing presence to support local business, reach out to provide support through newly established community groups on social media – there are plenty of ways to provide genuine support right now. The key here is to support not sell, to make sure your efforts are genuine and not seen as capitalising on others’ misfortune, and to take the time to study your communities, learn their individual concerns and act accordingly.
Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Andrew Knowles, Partner

Andrew Knowles is a co-founder and partner of Shoebridge Knowles Media Group (SKMG), a strategic communications consultancy specialising in reputation management and building the market voice of some of Australia’s most recognisable businesses. With a wealth of experience in the entertainment industry across both music and television, Andrew has managed and publicised the identities of brands from gold album selling duo Carmada to Network 10. Andrew is a former artist manager for Audiopaxx Agency, during which time he worked closely with companies such as Red Bull, Soundcloud, Sony Music Entertainment Australia, Universal Records, Atlantic Records and New Balance. At 10, Andrew was lead publicist on The Living Room, Gogglebox and Studio 10; managed publicity for the network-wide giving program 10 Gives, raising $1.2 million in coverage for Musicians Making A Difference; and handled media management for key network talent. Since launching SKMG, Andrew’s work has continued to draw high praise: his content strategy and direction for APN Outdoor’s coverage of Cannes Lions, for example, was judged as the third best in the world by the festival organisers.