Sarah Stringer
Jun 15, 2015

Feeding digital addiction

Top brands in Australia deliver to daily needs. They are top of mind for Aussies, argues Carat Australia’s Sarah Stringer, because their products are most often right in front of consumers.

Feeding digital addiction

Top brands in Australia deliver to daily needs. They are top of mind for Aussies, argues Carat Australia’s Sarah Stringer, because their products are most often right in front of consumers.

“We’ve got meat pies, Kangaroos, football and Holden cars…”
—Holden commercial c.1976

Turns out Australian’s are more concerned with smartphones, data, Netflix and streaming costs…

Four out of our top five most important brands in Australia are technology providers. Moreover, they are hardware providers, the creators of smartphones, tablets, TVs, and household appliances. Am I surprised that these tech brands have resonated so highly, with Samsung topping charts and Apple nipping at its heels? Well, not really. As many of you read this article I’m sure your trusty smartphone is right next to you. Actually in reality, you’re probably reading on your smart device. Personally speaking, I get a cold sweat and palpitations if I’m riding the tram home one evening and my phone battery dies a death. Addicted? Absolutely.

Luckily, for my own sanity’s sake, I’m not the only one. According to the Open Training Institute (part of Open Universities Australia), “…the average Australian spends a staggering 28 and-a-half hours a week of their spare time using electronic devices. That’s the equivalent to 62 days, or nine weeks every year.”

The latest Roy Morgan figures suggest the average Australian is watching 15.2 hours of TV a week, (arguably that would be included in the 28.5 hours quoted above) and tech hardware is delivering most, if not all, of our media interactions.

Supporting this view, Suncorp Bank published a report ‘The Cost of Being Digitally Savvy’ in April 2015 finding Australians (18 to 64 years) collectively spent around A$20 billion, or on average A$2,300 each, on technology and communication devices in the last 12 months. Australian’s with children in the household spend even more, due to their tech-hungry spawn, and the outlay increases to A$2,993 per adult with at least one child.

The knock on effects of this hardware investment is unsurprisingly, the apps, services and digital platforms to support them. Suncorp Bank Regional Manager, Monique Reynolds in the report commented that Australians don’t necessarily register how much money they are spending on digital services and accessories.

 “Those who purchased technology”, she says, “ended up spending nearly three times what they planned to, with mobile phones, call and data plans, home entertainment systems and digital accessories such as headphones the biggest budget blowers”.

Reynolds also noted, “…our growing thirst for ‘on-demand’ entertainment, streaming music, movies, radio and TV programs, is also costing us big time.”

Australians are a tech savvy bunch, and (as reported by Business Insider back in 2013) adopted smartphones and tablets into everyday culture faster than consumers in many other developed economies. We’re also regarded as one of the most active users of Facebook, and, unsurprisingly, smartphones are used to access social media more than any other device.

Media behaviours of Australians move very quickly, much to the dismay of the Australian government, who take a reactive approach to consumer habits.

One of the government’s contentious 2014 topics concentrated on the growing piracy issues and discrepancy in cost for Australians to legally gain access to streamed shows in comparison to other global markets. Australia still boasts the largest share of illegal downloading in the world. TorrentFreak published that Australia is the only country to reach double digits in percentage share of illegal downloads of Game of Thrones, accounting for 11.6 per cent of the show’s total pirating.

The launch of Netflix in Australia in March 2015, has trounced its subscription video-on-demand competition and subscriptions are rising. So much so that Netflix has admitted it is a key reason Australian internet speeds are noticeably slower since the service entered the market. Yes, Australians have long-waited for the levelling of the content playing field and are embracing these new platforms at an overwhelming rate. There will be a new war in media, and it will be content rights and platform accessibility.

What other stories can we see in the this years ranking for Australia? A major call out is global brands dominate this region, with only three local names making it into the top 20. Coles, Woolworths and Telstra all feature among global heavy weights, such as Nike, Coca-Cola and L’Oreal. Why would these three local brands feature above any other?

Once again, these are brands that deliver to Australian’s day-to-day lives. Telstra is the largest telco provider in Australia delivering (back to my tech argument) many services and experiences Australians value in their daily lives. Similarly, ongoing price promotion, everyday value and focusing on the day-to-day wellbeing of Australians has kept the Woolies and Coles brands front and centre. Yet, once again, these are brands that the average Australian spends roughly 2.5 hours a week with when they are grocery shopping (according to IBISWorld).

So, what’s my big takeout from the top brands in Australia? The list covers many brands that Australians experience on a daily basis. Their product offering means something to consumers as they deliver to their needs. They connect them to the world, they entertain them; they inform them; and even feed them. Australians value what these brands bring to their lives this is reflected by their brand status in consumer’s minds. Chaucer first supposed “Familiarity breeds contempt” yet within modern Australia, it seems familiarity now breeds importance.

Sarah Stringer is group innovation director at 
Carat Australia

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