A lot can change in five years: what you need to know about the Census

Are you the same person you were in 2016? Census says no. 🧐

Australia has grown up too in the past five years. For a start, an additional two million people (+8.6% increase) now call Australia home, with our population now sitting at over 25 million.

It’s likely that the perception you have of Australia is not actually the reality, especially after living in a bit of a bubble for most of the past two years. Demographic nerds like us froth over the census. The data is gold for any marketer, strategist and human that calls Aus home to understand the bigger picture of our society, how our lifestyles are changing and get a reality check on life in 2022.

No need to pour over the stats though, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Here’s our top five take outs to help you stay ahead of the cultural shifts transforming our nation. ⚡️

1. We are one, but we are many

Our nation is truly diverse. This was certainly one of the key highlights for us and is something that simply cannot be overlooked. We are now a predominately migrant nation, with 51.5% of all Australian’s either being born overseas or having a parent born overseas.

We are also linguistically very diverse, with more than 5.5 million people speaking a language other than English at home (and of these 850,000 do not speak English well).

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations are bigger than ever before, with a huge 25% increase from the last Census, driven by more people feeling safe, loud, and proud to identify. 🖤❤️💛

For your brand to stay relevant you need to ensure you are reflecting modern Australia and being more inclusive and progressive than ever. If there is no multicultural and Indigenous consideration within your strategy, you could miss engaging with over half our population. The key is to do it authentically… how? Ask them! (we can help). 😉

2. Step aside Boomers, Millennials have arrived

Baby Boomers once accounted for the majority of the Australian population, but it’s time for a new generation to shine. Millennials are on the rise, and now match numbers with Baby Boomers, both accounting for 5.4 million people in Australia (21.5%).

These generations, however, could not be more different. Apart from being arch enemies on auction day, their priorities, beliefs, and lifestyles are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Millennials are either working or studying, they embrace individuality and change far more than their predecessors and are increasingly prioritising lifestyle, values alignment, and mental health over job security. Baby Boomers being closer to hitting retirement age are more likely to be providing care for grandchildren (shout out to our mums 🙏) and have experienced a very different Australia in their post-war lifetime.

3. More Aussies losing faith in religion

There has been a huge decline of faith in Christianity with the numbers falling off the cliff in the last five years (declining from 52.1% in 2016 to 43.9% last year) constituting a sea change in Australian culture. Fewer than half the population now identify as Christian, and a record two in five people don’t identify with a religion at all.

The most dramatic difference can be seen when you compare religious beliefs of Millennials to Baby Boomers. Close to 60% of Baby Boomers believe in Christianity compared to only 30% of Millennials, whilst 46% of Millennials have no religion compared with 30% of Boomers, another example of diverging priorities of these two generations.

After Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are the next largest religious affiliations. Religious diversity also comes with greater opportunity, Diwali and Ramadan are already starting to emerge as retail occasions in Australia reminding us to think beyond our standard Aussie traditions.

4. Australia’s modern family

We are moving further and further away from the traditional ‘nuclear family’. The makeup of households in Australia is now extremely vast and varied:

  • More than 1 million families are made up of single parents (for the first time ever), and four out of five of these are female.
  • Single persons and couples without kids are on the rise and comparatively, households with children are declining.
  • Marriages are decreasing (36.5% of Australians have never married, up from 35%)
  • Divorce rates are increasing (8.8%, up from 8.5%)
  • Nearly 24,000 same sex marriages have been recorded since it was legalised in 2017 🌈

Times have really changed from the traditional ‘Aussie family’ of a husband and wife with two kids. We need to be able to reflect the new norms of Australian life and household makeup by representing this in marketing and campaigns. Diversity is no longer niche in every sense.

5. Mental health needs to be a priority

This year saw the first comprehensive snapshot of Australia’s long-term health conditions. This highlighted that millions of Aussies are living with them, from mental health and arthritis to asthma.

One of the key outtakes is the number of Australians suffering with mental health challenges. Roughly 1 in 12 people have a diagnosed mental illness. We can play a role in continuing to de-stigmatise it. Positive effects of de-stigmatiising the use of mental health services is already being felt with Millennials who are starting to make purchase choices and lifestyle decisions that improve their mental health. A key demo to keep an eye out for.

The very concept of being an ‘Aussie’ has changed significantly in the last five years. It’s exciting to see many positive changes that are re-shaping us into a more diverse, forward looking, and inclusive country. The challenge to marketers is to make sure our understanding and assumptions are keeping pace. Can’t wait to see what the next census holds, only five years to go. 😂

 

Sources:

  • ABS, ‘2021 Census shows Millennials overtaking Boomers’, abs.gov.au, 28 June 2022.
  • Ad News, ‘What The 2021 Census Means For Marketers’, Thang Ngo, 4 July 2022.
  • The Australian, ‘There is a great personal reset afoot’, Bernard Salt, 2 July 2022.
  • The Australian, ‘Census 2021: Australia is usually a bit like a supertanker, but this Census shows we’re changing course’, Bernard Salt, 28 June 2022.
  • The Australian ‘Restoring faith in our national heritage’, Paul Kelly, 2 July 2022.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Mental health issues top chronic illness list, new census data shows’, Melissa Cunningham and Meghan Dansie, 28 June 2022.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Single-parent families crack the 1 million mark for the first time’ Wendy Tuohy, 28 June 2022.

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