Majority of Aussies can’t make ends meet, new survey finds

More than half of Australians do not currently earn enough money to make ends meet, scrimping on health, cancelling insurance and leaning on buy now, pay later services to get by.

This is according to dentsu’s second annual proprietary consumer sentiment report, Read the Room, which surveyed more than 4,300 people to understand how and where they plan to shift their spending, in the grip of the current financial crisis.

More than 50% of Australians are “struggling financially and not making enough each month to make ends meet”, according to the survey – a bleak statistic that increases to 60% of those who have “recently purchased/bid on a house/apartment or refinanced a mortgage.”

Even more distressing, 71% of Australians parents claim their ability to purchase and eat healthy food on a regular basis has been negatively impacted by rising food costs.

Some 40% of Australians are using buy now, pay later services, up from 32% in 2022, while 12.8% have recently cancelled a health, home or car insurance policy.

Holidays are also off the menu, with 62% of those surveyed putting off international travel, and 57% reluctant to travel domestically in the current economic conditions.

63% of Australians claim to be “extremely anxious about their finances in the immediate future”, which is shown in shifting attitudes around discretionary spending.

Half of those surveyed now considered subscribing to two video streaming services, such as Netflix and Disney+, to be a luxury, while 33% considered just one subscription a luxury (compared to the 12% who still consider it a “necessity”).

60% feel replacing your mobile phone yearly to be a luxury, while 43% now believe eating out on a regular basis is a luxury.

40% of Aussies are buying cheaper alcohol too, with over half reporting they now buy less alcohol, due to the increased cost.

“The second iteration of our Read the Room research paints a very real picture of how Australians are responding to inflation, rising interest rates, and stagnant wages,” said David Halter, Chief Strategy Officer at Dentsu Creative ANZ.

“We believe the household budget is the bedrock for consumer brand success and as this scenario continues to play out, it is fundamental for businesses to have strong insights into how the whole nation is feeling and intending to behave to ensure they are best oriented to meet their customers’ needs and can be responsive as they change.

“No single category will go unaffected as Australians tighten their belts, cut back on expenses, and seek out cheaper alternative brands to make their household staple. The proportion of people who feel that they have money left over after meeting commitments is at its lowest point since 2015.

“Businesses must be thinking about their marketing strategies as the economic conditions shift and continue to invest. There are pockets of opportunities everywhere and our research helps identify them within the doom and gloom headlines dominating the news cycle.

“Read The Room reminds all of us to remain focused on the customer.”


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