Consumer Intelligence

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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.  This includes economic and political outcomes.

The April 2021 update shows that economic fear has declined back to average levels.

The report also covers expectations about prices (automotive fuel and electricity); fertility; disease; vehicle ownership; and terrorism.


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.


A set of 27 charts with commentary relevant to current and future trends in consumer spending in Australia.  Updated monthly.  Most recent update 15 May 2020.  There is now a supplement containing an additional set of charts with commentary focused on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandmic and shutdown.


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 was slowing even before COVID-19 arrived.  Now, with lower net migration and possibly an increase in deaths, the population growth rate could slow significantly.  Our scenarios show the sensitivity to a range of assumptions concerning these factors.


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 has avoided the dire predictions of deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy is recovering more quickly than expected from recession.  But we have a long way to go to get back to where we would have been, both in terms of population and the economy – it won’t happen in 2021.

There are uncertainties ahead concerning the ending of the pandemic and household income as government income support tails off.  Another uncertainty is the timing and result of the next federal election, which is due between August 2021 and April 2022.

The Australia in 2021 report analyses recent trends concerning population growth, economic growth, household income, and household spending.  It contains analysis of the mood of consumers in terms of willingness to spend and expectations about the year ahead.

Our analysis reveals a divided nation on two dimensions, which provides both opportunity and threats for consumer marketers and federal politics.


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 November 2020 update comes at an important time, as Australia slowly emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy recovers.  A federal election is due in 18 months, but could be called earlier.  Politicians and business decision makers need to ensure they are aware of the relative level of concern about social, economic, and environmental future concerns.

The Coalition is very likely to lose the 2019 federal election, which will probably be held in May. Three separate predictive methods all show a Labor win. Is this a repeat of 2007 when Labor won despite a strong economy? Will climate change be the deciding factor? A detailed analysis is contained in my report, along with an assessment of the top 10 issues that will be in the minds of voters.

As 2018 progressed, new vehicle sales slumped. Is this the start of Peak Car or is it a perfect storm? Our report analyses the causes of the slump.


Identifies the key drivers of spending on food (total of supermarkets, specialy food, and liquor).  Provides scenarios for growth in the year ahead.


This report shows that climate change is starting to influence our choices about where we live.  This is a statistically significant trend for Tasmania, which may be replicated in other locations. 


The level of belief in imminent climate change is back to the level it was in 2007, the last time Labor won government from the Coalition.  The level of belief, and support for action, is analysed over time, by demographic, and by location including selected federal electorates.  The implications for the election and for communications are discussed.  The level of support for particular actions is analysed.


The willingness to spend of young adults (age 18 to 29) has been at a record low since late 2016, but improved in mid-2019.  Their willingness to spend is lower than for older adults.  Their highest priority is saving, followed by loan repayment.

This change in behaviour has been damaging for those consumer marketing organisations that disproportionally target young adults.

Why has this happened and is there any improvement in sight?


Australia's economic growth rate has slumped, largely driven by slowing household consumption growth.  Are the current and planned monetary and fiscal policies up to the job of significantly lifting consumer spending growth?  The answer is no, because there is no stimulus for those consumers most willing to spend. 


Income tax cuts in 2019-20 will give a much needed boost to Australia's household disposable income.  But will consumers spend all the extra money and will the impact be enough to lift consumer spending out of its funk? 


Apparent consumption of alcohol in Australia has declined in per capita terms since 1978 and is still falling.  Our analysis of the data has identified the main drivers of this decline.  These are both demographic and economic factors.

Our model projects that per capita consumption will continue to decline, but that total alcohol consumption is likely to grow slowly.  Projections extend to 2030.

The per capita decline in consumption may seem like a good health outcome, but it is not actually clear that we are drinking less.  The demographic and economic factors may be confusing us.


Parts of Australia are in severe drought.  This is costly to the agriculture industry and the federal government is providing billions of dollars in assistance.  This drought is primarily caused by very low rainfall, but is made more severe by extremely high summer temperatures.  This report analyses to what extent the general public expect drought to continue and how concerned they are about adequate water supply.


Consumer spending growth has collapsed in Australia, despite recent attempts at monetary and fiscal stimulus.  Retail spending volume per capita is in recession, to a similar degree as during the global financial crisis.  This report analyses the symptoms, causes, and provides a remedy.  Based on unique proprietary tracking of consumer willingness to spend by demographic, a strategy is proposed that will boost spending. 


Consumer economic pessimism has increased in Australia as at late 2019, to the highest level since the Global Financial Crisis.  Why?  How can sentiment be turned around?  Our analysis has some surprising answers.


Low fossil fuel consumption vehicle sales are growing strongly, despite weak new vehicle sales overall.  This momentum is expected to continue given community concerns about climate change and the cost of living.  This report provides three scenarios for sales to 2030.


The recent increase in the number of first home buyers in Australia is set to continue into 2021.  Updated April 2021 - strong demand predicted to continue.


What does 2021 hold for Australia?  We have consulted the Wisdom of the Masses to find out.


Australian food preferences and behaviour have been impacted by the pandemic and there seems little chance of going back to previous habits in the short-term.  In addition, ethical and environmental aspects of food have crystallised in importance as these issues become more urgent.  Our report is based on a September 2020 survey.


Opinion polls conducted before the 2019 federal election all got it wrong by a similarly large margin.  An investigation by #AMSRO (Association of Market and Social Research Organisations) concluded that:

“The most likely reason why the polls underestimated the first preference vote for the LNP and overestimated it for Labor was because the samples were unrepresentative and inadequately adjusted.

The polls were likely to have been skewed towards the more politically engaged and better educated voters with this bias not corrected.

As a result, the polls over-represented Labor voters.

Pollsters share a common difficulty in struggling to establish contact with and gain the cooperation of a representative sample of voters – irrespective of methodology.  This conclusion is broadly similar to that reached by the reviews into the performance of the 2015 UK polls and the 2016 US polls”.

After this excoriating assessment, how can we more accurately predict the outcome of the next federal election, which will most likely be held between August 2021 and April 2022?

This report provides alternative methods and their predictions based on April 2021 data.


This report analyses trends in new vehicle sales in total, by type of buyer and fuel type.  The analysis also includes trends in total number of registered vehicles, average age of vehicle, average distance travelled, and fuel efficiency.  The driving forces of new vehicle sales are analysed and implications for the future are canvassed.  Also included is analysis and projections of sales to 2027.