Australian Research Reveals the ‘One Kilometre Phenomenon’

Australian Research Reveals the ‘One Kilometre Phenomenon’
November 11, 2009 Kaz Scott

Consumers set the research agenda in ‘concern and control’ measurement study

A lack of respect for both other people and public property are two of the most common concerns raised by Australians in a new suite of research released today.

Conducted by advertising and communications group Ogilvy, the study was designed to discover what issues were concerning Australians, rate the level of concern and measure how much control we felt over those concerns. The study uncovered a spectrum of concern spanning relationships, juggling work and life, ageing, health and wellbeing, technology, food, finances, security and government.

Titled ‘What’s Keeping Australians Up at Night’, the research revealed that as a nation it’s the concerns closest to our daily lives that we have in common.

“We’ve coined the term one kilometre phenomenon – we read the headlines and know what’s happening on a global and national scale, but it’s those issues that are closest to us – people in the street and our community – that’s keeping more of us awake at night.  It’s interesting these concerns are equally high across the demographics. Even younger generations feel concern about damage to public property and the lack of personal respect,” said John Studdert, managing director of opr.

The one kilometre phenomenon

As a nation, it’s the concerns closest to our daily life that we have in common. The top six most commonly shared causes for concern were:

–          67% How disrespectful people are of public property (littering and vandalism)

–          65% The growing lack of respect and consideration for others

–          61% That companies are charging me to pay my bills

–          60% That children today are exposed to things prematurely as a result of the internet and TV

–          58% The poor customer service from international call centres

–          57% The rising cost of groceries

Ogilvy Research Nov 2009 - One kilometre phenomenon

About the concern /control methodology: Australians set the research agenda

“Measuring both concern and control delivered a new layer of insight that basic polling rarely uncovers,” said Mike Daniels, managing partner Ogilvy & Mather.

“We found that if a respondent was feeling under financial pressure, every other issue in their lives became both more concerning and less under control – even if it wasn’t directly related to money. Personal relationships, community and security worries – even concerns about their wellbeing – all rated more concerning and less controllable for this group. If a respondent reported their financial situation as ‘getting by’ or ‘doing well’ their general levels of concern fell and feelings of control increased,” said Daniels.

“Every issue of concern in our study was fed to us directly by participants in the focus groups across regional and metropolitan Australia. We ran a series of twelve focus groups across the country and asked – without pre-conceived ideas – what they were concerned about. We then asked them to rank their concerns and rate the level of influence they had over each issue. We then took that research to our partners at ORU and asked 1015 Australians in an online poll about how they felt about those same issues,” said Eugene Catanzariti, head of strategic planning, BADJAR Ogilvy.

Ogilvy Research Nov 2009 - Concern vs Control

Relationships: Men and women back on the same planet

It seems Australian men and women feel the same when it comes to relationship concerns and the level of control they feel over them. Almost a quarter of respondents reported ‘that I constantly feel as though I have to please other people’ (22%) which was the highest response for a relationship concern. Across the survey, 18% were highly concerned that ‘I feel I have to try and fit in with people all the time’.

“As a nation, the Ogilvy research shows we generally feel we have a high level of control over relationships. In some cases – like making sure we don’t leave it too late to start a family – the feeling of control actually increases with household income. This is consistent with other research which shows cost is a key issue for Gen Y when deciding to start a family,” said Anne Hollonds, CEO Relationships Australia NSW.

The Work / Life Juggle

More than one-fifth of Australians are highly concerned they will never have a good balance between work and play. About the same proportion don’t know if they will ever find the ‘right job’. People aged 18-24 are particularly concerned with employment issues and more likely to say they have less control over these issues.


Despite the boom in Botox, it’s not losing our looks which are causing us the most concern when it comes to ageing.

–          47% of Australians are highly concerned about ‘how getting old will affect my physical ability’.

–          41% are highly concerned about ‘how getting old will affect my mental capacity’.

–          29% are highly concerned about ‘care for my ageing parents’.

–          21% are highly concerned about ‘how getting old will affect my personal appearance’.

Health & Wellbeing

Almost half of all Australians are highly concerned about preservatives and artificial ingredients in food, obesity and not exercising enough. “Women are more concerned than men about most health and wellbeing issues and those with children in the household are more concerned about not exercising enough than those without,” said Graham Edwards, managing director of Ogilvy Healthworld.  Respondents aged 18-24 are more likely to say they have less control over these issues than others.

Government: high concern, low control

Australians are concerned about the way they’re governed and the quality of public services, but feel little control over these issues. The sense of disconnect between Australians and their governments is very high. More than seven million Australians say they are highly concerned about the quality of public health care in Australia, only exceeded by the 8.3 million who are concerned by politicians’ broken promises. The level of control felt over these issues is lower than for almost every other set of issues assessed in the study.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, Australians feel they have relatively more control over environmental issues like climate change and drought than other government issues despite having similarly high levels of concern about them.

Concern over the drought is the same among Liberal and Labor voters, however Labor voters are notably more concerned about climate change than Liberal voters, demonstrating the political partisanship of this debate extends well into the community.


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