Bondi Hipsters are alive and well in entertainment, media and advertising

With the annual PwC Media Outlook report showing the average media/adland worker is a white 27-year-old male from Sydney's eastern suburbs Megan Brownlow asks whether the Bondi Hipster trope means we're missing the mark when it comes to speaking to audiences.

Megan Brownlow

Over the next five years Australia’s media and entertainment sector is forecast to grow in terms of advertising and consumer spend, but only moderately. There will be pockets of high growth in digital; however, this revenue is spread over many players. This begs the question, in a small and low growth market, what should our businesses be doing to grow?

At this time each year I work with a team of accountants and economists at PwC to crunch the numbers and give a broad view on the state of the industry and its future. This year, we included geospatial economic modelling to identify who epitomises an entertainment and media employee in Australia.

The results are fascinating – although not all that surprising. They show that the industry has a distinct lack of diversity, not just socio-economically but geographically.

The Bondi Hipsters.

The Bondi Hipsters. Christiaan van Vuuren and Nick Boshier.

It turns out the Van Vuuren Brothers’ Bondi Hipster characters are alive and well in media.  The average employee in the sector is 27, male, Caucasian and lives in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs or the Inner West.

In radio, for example, the homogeneity of on-air talent is very pronounced, with 75 percent male, white and over 35.

Compare this to the average Australian today.  Using Census data we know that in 1961, the average Australian was a 29 year old male, whose religion was Anglican and he worked as a clerk, a quaint term for office worker.  By 2011, he had turned into a she, with the average Australian a woman, 37 years old, Catholic – which indicates some ethnic diversity – and she works in retail.

The Australian entertainment and media industry talent pool also comes from a limited number of locations across Australia. The top 10 suburbs where all Australian industry employees live are Sydney’s inner west suburbs and eastern suburbs. After Sydney, the second highest concentration is in Melbourne, with workers congregating around St Kilda and Richmond.

Geography outlook

Source: PwC. The top 10 suburbs in Australia where entertainment and media workers live are all in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and inner west. Click to enlarge.


Source: PWC. Click to enlarge. Top suburbs by state.

Similar to the world we see depicted by media, entertainment and media businesses do not reflect an Australia that’s becoming more diverse by the day. It means the industry is not as well equipped for growth as it could be.

It is important to acknowledge that diversity in the workforce is not always a good thing.

If you have diverse education levels amongst your senior managers your firm will perform poorly.  If you operate on a production line, a diverse team can reduce cohesion in the group.  When you are producing multiples of the same widget, things run smoother with homogeneity.

There are many scenarios however where properly managed diversity in your workforce optimises your business.

In creative or intellectual tasks, study after study has shown that more alternatives arise from a greater number of perspectives. While you might take longer to get to a decision it will be ultimately a better one. This is surely the goal of most entertainment, media and marketing organisations – greater creativity, more intellectual firepower, better decisions, and less groupthink.

Talent that looks more like your audience also leads to a better understanding of your audience, leading to increased market penetration and increased customer satisfaction.

McKinsey’s analysis of 366 public companies across a range of industries and countries showed that a company’s likelihood of achieving financial performance above their national industry median was 35% higher and 15% higher respectively, if they had ethnically and gender diverse senior management and boards.

Then there’s winning the war for talent. If you’re fishing from a bigger pond you’re more likely to hook a better trout – or data analyst.

And cost savings.

Due to the nature of our population, you probably have some diversity in your workforce anyway. If it’s not managed well, you face costs of more frequent replacement of those unhappy minority employees, as well as lower productivity, higher absenteeism and potentially, litigation.

What steps should entertainment, media and advertising businesses take to address the lack of diversity in their workforce? Greater focus needs to be placed on tackling the two underlying psychological factors holding us back – unconscious bias and similarity attraction in recruitment.

At the risk of over-simplifying, a practical example of how you can do this is to review recruitment practices – where and how do you fish?

Whilst this isn’t a silver bullet to growth, increasing the diversity of your workforce could mean you’re not relegated to the history pages as well as help to position your business to capitalise on the fast growing markets to our near North.

Megan Brownlow is ‎editor of Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook at PwC.

Limited tickets are still available for Mumbrella360 which takes place this Wednesday and Thursday, where Brownlow will be presenting the full findings of the Outlook report. Click the image for more details.



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