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Millennial, Gen Z spending habits revealed

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
18 December 2019 4 minute readShare
Happy Millennials

Music publisher The Brag Media has polled 4,300 Australians born since 1978 about their regular spending habits. And some of the findings may surprise many businesses.

The online poll, conducted through The Brag Media’s website, looked beyond simply music tastes to garner an overall insight into the spending habits of Aussie Millennials (born between 1978 and 1997) and Gen Zers (born between 1997 and 2014), covering everything from food and drink to online shopping, travel, finances and even utilities.

The findings, garnered from a total of 4,331 respondents, were used to compile its Tastemaker Insights report.

As would be expected from a poll conducted on the music publisher’s site, music featured highly, with half of respondents suggesting music is their primary passion in life.

But they are also keen travellers, with 47 per cent saying they travel abroad at least once a year and 88 per cent holidaying domestically at least once a year. The vast majority of this travel (82 per cent) is booked solely online.

Perhaps more surprisingly — given the proliferation of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime — virtually all of the respondents (97.7 per cent) said they still go out to the cinema at least once a year. But the average attendance across all respondents was much higher, at 7.3 times per year.

Where younger Australians spend their money

While online shopping was popular with the group, the frequency at which they do so may surprise many people.

According to the report, less than half (45 per cent) said they shop online at least once a month, and only one in four (23 per cent) do so at least once a week.

However, they are likely to buy more, with Millennials receiving an average of 19.5 parcels shipped to them each year and Gen Z receiving 15.4 parcels annually on average. The Brag Media suggested this was well above the norm for Australians as a whole.

And, in a shock to practically no one, 77 per cent of their internet usage is via mobile.

In terms of entertainment, sports were the most popular, with respondents attending an average of 7.8 sporting events each year, ahead of going to the movies.
Attending music concerts ranked third, at an average of seven times per year. Musical festivals, meanwhile, attracted youth an average of 2.1 times a year.

Not so frivolous with their cash

A common criticism of the “smashed avo” generation is that they are frivolous with their spending and have little interest in their financial future. However, the report found this to be untrue for the most part.

Three out of four respondents said they are actively saving money, most commonly for travel, while saving for a vehicle or property purchase also ranked highly.

Most have also taken at least some interest in their superannuation, with 52 per cent saying they have set up an account with a super fund of their own choosing rather than leaving their money with their employer’s default fund. A slightly lower number (45 per cent) know the balance of their super.

A number are also actively investing in their qualifications and professional development, with 30 per cent having paid for online education they believed to be valuable and the same number having attended at least one self-improvement seminar.

Connections with business

What businesses often want to know most is how they can better attract and engage with Millennials and Gen Z — and keep them as customers once they have done so.

Doing good is a key motivator for many. Some 42 per cent of respondents said they had deepened their relationship with a business because they perceived its products or services had a positive impact, whether that be for the environment and/or for society in general.

But the ethical conduct of a business — real or perceived — is also a key factor in where they decide to spend their money.

More than a third (36 per cent) said they had begun or deepened a relationship based on the perceived good ethical standing of that business. And on the flipside, a staggering 77 per cent had reduced or ceased spending with a business over its ethical conduct.

Advertising and online tracking also play a role in the perception of a business, according to the report. A quarter (24 per cent) will sever ties with a business over insistent online tracking, and 63 per cent will abandon content if they can’t skip an ad. Indeed, 82 per cent said they would skip a video ad if there was an option to do so.

Additionally, 32 per cent said they use ad-blocking software.

How businesses can better engage with younger Aussies

According to the report, authenticity is the key to success when attracting younger customers, as is not just saying but actively practising ethical and responsible behaviour.

Content, it suggested, should be geared away from traditional advertisements and embrace the following (in no particular order):

  • meme generation
  • quizzes
  • custom videos, both short and long form
  • mini documentaries
  • feature pieces
  • top 10 lists
  • microsites
  • brand activations
  • lead generation tools

“Millennials and Gen Z are no longer the ‘future’. They now make up more than 40 per cent of Australia’s working population and are voracious consumers who do not hesitate to spend money when it comes to their passions,” The Brag Media’s CEO, Luke Girgis, said.

He said that most younger people “strongly lack faith in traditional institutions”, and that the conduct of a business can make or break their relationship with these generations.

“While it has never been easier than ever to reach young Australians, actually engaging with them has never been more challenging,” Mr Girgis said.

“This demands a new approach — the old ways don’t work anymore. Today, marketing isn’t about creating awareness — it’s about creating relationships.”

Millennial, Gen Z spending habits revealed
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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