A generational divide among Australians has put traditional values like mateship at risk of extinction, a new research report into Australian Values by Havas Labs (the research division of the Havas Australia Creative Group) in partnership with YouGov has found.
The Australian National Values in 2022 study revealed long standing traditional Aussie values that hark back to the 1930s and ’40s are not nearly as important as they were to past generations, as a shift to a more progressive modern mindset among the Australian population takes hold.
The research provides a detailed exploration into how values differ across Australians based on their age, gender, location and even birthplace, uncovering a range of new insights about what matters to the nation and individuals today, to help brands better connect with consumers and what they consider to be important.
Laura Aldington, CEO Host/Havas, introduced the Boomers vs Zoomers panel discussion sponsored by TikTok this morning by saying: “Australian values are far more nuanced than you might think.”
The panel was moderated by Simone Gupta (Havas PR) and featured Simon Kuestenmacher (The Demographics Group), Kim Braganza (TikTok) and Olly Taylor (Havas Labs).
(l-r) Simone Gupta (Havas PR) , Simon Kuestenmacher (The Demographics Group), Kim Braganza (TikTok) and Olly Taylor (Havas Labs)
Younger Australians value progressive, artistic, entrepreneurial, and intellectual ideals more than oldies
While Boomers hold tightly onto mateship, younger generations place greater value on sustainability, achievement, intellectualism, progressiveness, art and culture, and innovation.
The biggest difference was seen in intellectualism, which was named a top 10 value by 38% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennials, compared to 13% of Boomers and 8% of those aged 77 and older (“the Silent Generation”).
Nationalism emerged as a divisive value, featuring as a top 10 value for some Australians and a least important value for others. While one in three Boomers valued nationalism (33%) as a top 10 value, just one in five Gen Z (21%) felt likewise. About one in four in Gen Z (43%) and Millennials (35%) chose nationalism as one of their top five least important values.
National and individual values differ
Some national values transcended age differences, with all generations agreeing on the importance of equal opportunity for all, freedom and honesty as top 10 values as individuals.
Interestingly, key differences emerged between perceptions of national and individual values. Honesty, compassion, and work ethic became more important. In the converse, mateship, security, equal opportunity, and rule of law fell down the list as important values for individuals.
When it comes to the top five values we want to dial up for Australian culture in the future, equal opportunity for all (34%) topped the list, followed by honesty (33%), freedom (31%), sustainability (31%) and compassion (28%).
Tall poppies an endangered species?
Perhaps reflecting their penchant for intellectualism and innovation, younger Australians don’t subscribe to the ‘tall poppy syndrome’, with more Gen Z (37%) and Millennials (29%) valuing achievement as a top 10 value compared to Boomers (9%) and the Silent Generation (7%).
City slickers and country cousins’ values merge
The days of widely different values held by those living in the city and regional areas appears to be over. Both groups now share nine of the top 10 most important individual values, with divergence only appearing on the less common value of traditionalism versus progressiveness.
Gender benders flip the stereotypes
It may not only be the perception of mateship that is shifting, but the perception of mates themselves. Flying in the face of the common stereotype of the rough and ready ‘typical’ Australian ‘bloke’, the study revealed men are more drawn to the values of intellectualism, creativity and tolerance.
In contrast, women value compassion, resilience, and physical health and fitness more than men, with the research revealing a marked pivot towards strength and compassion in equal measure.
A divided view on the future of Australian Values
The research indicates that generations are divided on what values they would like to see Australia ‘dial-up’ in the future. Gen X and Boomers want more honesty and Gen Z, and Millennials want more sustainability and progressiveness. It shows that when it comes to the future of Australian values Boomers want more of the same and Gen Z want something new.
“This study digs below the stereotypes to find Australian values are far more nuanced than we think,” Taylor said. “Our understanding of what we consider Australian values is not the same as what we value as individuals – and the research shows those individual values are shaped by many factors including lived experience, and, most importantly, age.
“Brands that want to connect meaningfully with Australians will need to embrace this changing and diverse values landscape and consider how to foster a sense of community and connectedness in a culture where difference is widespread.”
Julie Harris, head of research Australia, YouGov, said: “The research highlights that brands need to continue to adapt and re-invent themselves to stay relevant and grow in the context of Australia’s evolving values. In particular, as younger generations wield increased economic clout, brands will need to understand the values that drive their attitudes and behaviour to speak their language and win their hearts and minds.”
The report was developed by Havas Labs, the research division of the Havas Australia Creative Group, in partnership with YouGov. The study was conducted online between 13-22 December, 2021, with a nationally representative sample of 1,535 Australian residents aged 18 or older, including a booster sample of 500 residents born outside of Australia and who speak a language other than English. Following completion of the panel, the data was weighted by age, gender, education, and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
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