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McKinsey Australia | The Story of the Australian Consumer

The new consumer insights series form McKinsey Australia explores the unique impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian consumer sentiment, confidence and behaviour. 

by The AFC

12 May 2020

McKinsey Australia | ‘The Story of the Australian Consumer’

The new consumer insights series form McKinsey Australia explores the unique impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian consumer sentiment, confidence and behaviour. What is different now? What will stick in the future? How will this impact our nation’s economy - and, what do government and business leaders need to know and do about it?




This online Australian Insights series draws on McKinsey’s latest consumer and industry research and insights, including in-depth analysis of the firm’s consumer sentiment research, perspectives from the firm’s consumer and retail experts and industry leaders, and the first daily household diary study of Australian consumers living, working and learning in enforced isolation.



The first piece in the series - The Curse of The Lucky Country’: In search of economic antidotes to COVID-19  looks at the current state of Australian consumers in response to COVID-19, and the extent to which our reactions are aligned with the health and economic realities of Australia’s pandemic experience to date. It gives a snapshot of the current response to COVID-19 against recent trust and sentiment issues, and explores some of the differences amongst various ‘generations’, with a focus on Gen Z and Millennials.


Why are Australia’s consumers responding so differently, and how do we shift this?

 “Despite Australia being a global leader in the battle against COVID‑19, the past few months have triggered fear and uncertainty in even the most rational Australians.

According to our research, 80 percent of Australians say they are unsure or pessimistic about the country’s economic recovery.

Gen Z and millennials—who have been disproportionately affected by income loss to date—are the most worried about the economy and are tightening their belts accordingly. Our figures show that 63 percent of Gen Zs report ‘cutting back on spending’, compared with 30 percent of baby boomers, or 45 percent of Australians in total.

It is important to keep a close eye on the younger generations. Millennials and Gen Z already comprise 40 percent of the Australian population. So how these generations are feeling and behaving matters materially for the country’s economy and society.

It is startling to see that Australians are half as optimistic about the economic recovery from COVID-19 as citizens of the United States, where more than 68,000 people have died from the disease, and are less than half as optimistic as Chinese citizens, which have been dealing with it the longest.

 We are struck by this juxtaposition. And, it has prompted us to start a deeper exploration of Australians’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours, which ultimately underpin the economy. This is important to ensure that the population’s concerns do not unduly weigh down the country’s capacity to not only recover, but also to innovate and prosper after the crisis.”

- Jenny Child, series co-author and leader of McKinsey’s Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail practices in Australia and New Zealand.



‘The Story of the Australian Consumer’ series builds on McKinsey’s latest Australian consumer sentiment survey – click here to view.

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