What Australia’s 2016 Census means for Marketers

On the night of Australia’s 2016 Census, the total count of residents in the country was 23,401,892. After adjusting for undercount and adding the number of residents overseas on census night, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates the population to be around 24.4 million. Australia’s population is growing, and in an extremely multicultural way. Here are some of the key points we can take away from the census data released by the ABS.

Australians born of Australian parents will soon be a minority

Just slightly over half of the population have two Australian-born parents—50.7% to be exact. This number is quite a drop from the 54% recorded in 2011, which was also a marked drop in comparison with the 57% in 2006. It seems only a matter of time before most of the population will be composed of children of immigrants, especially considering 66.7% of people surveyed were Australian-born—a drop from the 69.8% recorded in 2011.

Australia is receiving more Asian immigrants than European ones

Historically, Australia’s reputation as a haven for European and in particular British immigrants is what led to its spurious growth in the mid-20th century. There’s a slight shift in the trend now, with the country seeing an increase in the number of Asian immigrants and a drop in European ones. There are now more foreign-born residents from China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia than from England, New Zealand and mainland Europe. Also, Asian immigrants are typically much younger than their European counterparts, which could help slow down the ageing of the population.

Australia is getting older

2016 saw a record 15.8% of the population aged 65 and over (up from 13.2% in 2006) and a record 4% aged 85 and over. In addition to this, the school-aged population saw record low numbers: Only 24.8% of the population was aged 19 and under, down from 26.6% in 2016 and 45% at the start of the 20th century. While this will definitely mean more spending on health care for the elderly, these costs might get offset by the fact that the reducing school-going population will affect funding for public schools.

English is still the dominant language, but it’s being spoken less

English still remains Australia’s primarily spoken language, but it is slowing losing popularity. The 2016 census reported that 72.7% of residents spoke only English at home. This is a significant drop from the 76.8% reported in 2011. Furthermore, Mandarin is now spoken by 2.2% of Australians (up from 1.6%), while the number of Arabic, Vietnamese and Cantonese speakers has also increased.

So what does this mean for the marketing industry?

All of these factors point to a massive cultural shift in Australia’s demographics. The country is slowing moving to a huge multicultural make-up, one that is set to influence not just government policies but also marketing strategies. As more Asian people migrate to the continent, we can definitely expect to see a change in the type of produce sold in supermarkets, with maybe an increase in fresh herbs and tropical ingredients preferred by ethnic people. A recent Nielsen report talked about how grocery spending for ethnic-Australians is growing 1.8 times faster than all Australians, while that for Asian-born Australians in particular spend is growing 4.7 times faster.

All of these insights prove that there is a great opportunity for Australian manufacturers and retailers to engage with ethnic-Australian people. Maybe by creating brands and products that cater particularly to their needs and wants, companies can tap into a market that is growing year by year.









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