Bernard Salt on Melbourne, China and everything in between

Bernard Salt on Melbourne, China and everything in between
April 20, 2017 Katrina Waldron

What is the social and economic outlook for Melbourne and Australia?

This was the question that Australia’s leading demographer, Bernard Salt, tackled at an opr breakfast this week in Melbourne.

While the answer is a complex one, Bernard was able to break it down into some key themes that will undoubtedly shape the way we do business locally, nationally and internationally for decades to come.

Theme one: Lusting for lifestyle

We, more than any other country in the world, put lifestyle first. Indulgence is high on our list too.

Bernard brought this lust to life by analysing retail sales in Australia over the past 10 years.

Two categories stood out:

  1. Takeaway food grew by 70% as a category
  2. Cafes, restaurants and catering grew by 66% as a category

In comparison, recreational goods, department stores and newspapers and books are trending in the opposite direction.

Theme two: Knowledge is power

Knowledge workers are on the rise.

We are seeing more and more jobs created in the following sectors:

  • Healthcare and Social Assistance
  • Professional / Scientific / Technology
  • Construction
  • Public Administration and Safety
  • Education and Training

Melbourne is a hot bed for jobs of this nature which is one of the reasons it is adding more than 90,000 people to its population each year. Based on current growth, Melbourne will be home to 5.6 million people by 2026.

Theme two: Innovation nation?

Aussies like to think of themselves as an innovative bunch, but is that really the case?

Based on data shared by Bernard, it is very hard to make that argument.

In the United States, six of the top 10 businesses (by market capitalisation) were founded after 1975.

In Australia, that number is zero.

In fact, Australia’s five biggest business were all established before 1911.

We’re not creating businesses with a global outlook or global aspirations which means we’re falling behind the likes of the US and others that have committed to genuine innovation.

Theme three: Golden oldies

The fact that we’re ageing, rapidly, isn’t a secret but what does it mean?

It means in places like Melbourne, that as we get older a higher premium is being placed on some very specific services, especially in relation to houses, mortgages and superannuation.

The ‘active retiree’ segment wants to engage in social activities and wellness.

The average Aussie can expect to live an extra 19 years than it did 80 years ago which is having an impact at every stage of the lifecycle.

Theme five: China’s flying…literally

China has 18 cities that are bigger than Melbourne. 18!

Its two biggest cities, Shanghai and Beijing have both grown by more than 10 million people since 2000.

That’s a lot of growth!

China’s growth has spawned a number of ripples including an increased desire to go on holiday.

Australia, thanks to its convenient location, makes it a top destination.

Of the top 20 cities in China, 13 have direct flight into Australia.

In 2016, that number was eight.

Expect to see more and more inbound holiday traffic from China in the short and long term future.

Our biggest takeaway

We are a lucky country. An enviable lifestyle and a passion for maintaining it.

However, we can’t get complacent. We must push ourselves to innovate and take note of the changes happening around us to grow, evolve and prosper well into the future.