Consumer Intelligence

Consumer Intelligence

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Household consumption spending growth (volume) is weak and retail sales growth ($) continues to weaken.  This has been largely caused by slowing household income growth.  Real per capita income growth is in recession.


Willingness to spend is quite high, so lifting income growth should lead to recovery of consumer spending growth.  But how is higher income growth to be achieved?


The current hope is that recent strong employment growth will result in sustainably higher wages growth.  This does not appear to be happening, so should the federal government have a fiscal stimulus ready as a contingency?


This report dissects willingness and ability to spend by broad age group as a guide for fiscal stimulus and as a basis for consumer marketing strategy in a low income environment.


Not all Australians prefer lower interest rates.  Some prefer higher rates and some prefer no change.  This report is based on consumer survey tracking data and shows how interest rate preferences vary over time and by demographic.  It shows that interest rates have lost their power to influence aggregate consumer spending growth in this very low interest rate environment.  It also points to another way to boost consumer spending growth.


In his 2004 book “The Wisdom of Crowds”, James Surowiecki makes an interesting case that if you want to make a correct decision then large numbers of ordinary people can provide better advice than a small number of experts.  We have been researching this concept since 2005 and find that it is a potentially useful technique - but that applying it is rather more complex than suggested by Surowiecki.

We prefer the term "the wisdom of the masses" rather than crowds because the latter does not suggest sufficient diversity.

Consumer expectations have been found to be valuable for forecasting and predicting behaviour.

The 2017 survey of expectations for 2018 presents some challenges for Malcolm Turnbull and his government.


Provides analysis of nine demand indicators for Australia's mainland states.  Two of these indicators, willingness and ability to spend, are only available from foreseechange.  Also included are composite ranking and a volatility indicator.


House prices are an important economic variable.  They are a major component of household wealth, a significant driver of consumer spending, and a hurdle for prospective first home buyers.  This report is based on a unique leading indicator of Australian house price inflation.


Young adults have changed their financial priorities and behavious substantially since the global financial crisis and especially since 2010.  This has been bad for many retailers and their suppliers and for other industries such as health insurance.  This report details the changes, why they have occurred, and their implications.


2017 is the year of the perfect storm for Australian retailers.  Consumer spending growth was already weak due to poor employment growth and the lowest hourly wage growth on record.  Now motor fuel and electricity prices are rising again, sucking the discretionary spending power of consumers dry.  It is even worse for households with mortgages as interest rates are creeping up even though the Reserve Bank of Australia has official interest rates on hold.  Later in 2017, Amazon will launch in Australia.  What can Australian consumer marketers do?  It is time to engage a long-ignored demographic.


A set of 25 charts relevant to current and future trends in consumer spending in Australia.  Updated monthly.  Most recent update 18 October 2018.


Older consumers are more numerous than they were a decade ago and they spend more money.  This means that consumer marketers may be missing big opportunities.  In a growth challenged consumer spending environmemnt in Australia, opportunities should not be missed.  This report is based on the 2015/16 household expenditure survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.  Other data analysed includes proprietary foreseechange data on willingness to spend.


Australia's population growth rate is running at 1.6%, but is very likely to slow in 2018 and 2019.  Natural population growth is slowing and may slow further due to falling fertility and slow growth in the age groups with the highest fertility.  Net migration is set for a slowdown.  This will tend to slow demand growth in the economy and has the potential to the impact housing for several years.


The drivers of consumer spending in Australia are identified and quantified.  The outlook for 2018, along with some scenarios, are included in this report.


We don't all believe that the climate is changing and that human activity is causing climate change.  This report analyses several different sets of data, collected over the past decade, to identify what factors influence variations in belief.  Also analysed is survey data concerning the relative importance of climate change.  The report concludes that there is not sufficient conviction amongst the general public to force politicians to take decisive action to mitigate climate change.  There is a need to change strategy and relevant suggestions are put forward. 


Australia's business sentiment is buoyant and employment growth is the best since before the GFC.  Population growth is strong.  The federal government is bullish.  Both private and public economic forecasters are optimistic. What could go wrong?  The paradox is that major drivers of the economy are very weak.  This report reviews the conflicting evidence and discusses the risks and opportunities for Australia in 2018. 


Future expectations influence decisions made today.  When making purchasing and investment decisions our choices can have an impact on our future.  So too with ballot box decisions.  When we buy a house or use social media our choices have future implications for us and the community.

Future concerns have been researched by foreseechange occasionally since 2002.  The relative levels of future concern about issues has varied significantly over this period.

This June 2018 update comes at an important time, with a federal election and state elections in Victoria and NSW due in the next 12 months.  At this time also, Australians have to decide whether or not to opt out of the My Health Record system.


Retail sales growth scenarios for the next 18 months.  Identification and analysis of the key economic drivers, the impact of the imminent federal election, consumer spending sentiment, opportunity and threat.