HomeLifeUncovering the truth about ageing in Australia

Uncovering the truth about ageing in Australia

WPP, Australia & New Zealand, has released Secrets and Lies Chapter Six: ‘Fact, Fiction and What’s New in 22?’. 

The report, which revisits key themes from the previous five reports, shows how the perceptions and priorities of 2000 Australians have shifted over the past four years against the country’s rapidly changing political, cultural, and social backdrop. 

The new report focuses on the concept of ageing in Australian society. The discoveries break all the conventions and perceived norms about what it means to get older, and uncovers the lies we’ve been telling ourselves about Australians over the age of 50.

The research hints that the rule-breaking, age-defying, Woodstock-loving generation of Australians has been spooked into submission. They are less likely to trust what they read online and are tired of feeling invisible to marketers.

Back in 2019, WPP research found that 78 per cent of Australians over 50 agreed that middle age starts at 60 rather than 40. However, this number is now down to 61 per cent.

Additionally, back in 2019, 78 per cent of those surveyed stated they felt much younger than their age, this number is now down to 59 per cent. While 61 per cent felt they were living their best years, now this number is down to 40 per cent.

Read: Getting fit – and staying fit – for healthy ageing

The ‘over 50s’ term

The risk of using ‘over 50s’ as segmentation shorthand is that we treat this vast and diverse population as an homogenous group. It’s symptomatic of how little attention is paid to this audience that they’re typically lumped together with their parents without due consideration for these very different life stages. At worst it’s ageism, at best indifference.

Many Australians in their 50s are still busy raising kids, building careers and paying off mortgages. They’re a long way off 80, and not even close to traditional retirement, but this distinction is often overlooked.

People now in their 50s will be bringing to later life a range of life experiences and expectations that are profoundly different from those of previous generations. The baby boomers are the first generation to face the new ‘third age’ with its unprecedented expectation of a decade or two of relatively healthy life after retirement.

Yet, despite accounting for 27 per cent of the population and around 50 per cent of the private wealth, 94 per cent of marketing dollars are spent on other age groups.

Multifaceted truth telling

The new report found that Aussies are more partial to telling lies than ever before. In fact, 42 per cent of us have lied about our whereabouts to family or friends in comparison to 27 per cent of us in 2018. 

Additionally, 29 per cent of us use work as an excuse to avoid time with them, a 9 per cent jump from 2018. Millennials and generation Z are more likely to lie than generation X, baby boomers and the silent generation in each of these scenarios. 

However, there are two key areas where Aussies are lying a lot less: to our employers and on social media. While four years ago 52 per cent of us lied regularly to our employers, that number has fallen to 28 per cent. Additionally, 49 per cent of us previously mispresented our lives on social media. Now that number has fallen to 11 per cent.

Read: The link between ageing and more positive emotions

Prosperity, fairness and kindness

We have seen a rapid decline in perceptions of prosperity and fairness since 2018, with just 56 per cent of respondents believing that fairness exists in Australia today, in comparison to 77 per cent of those surveyed in 2018. Perceptions of prosperity have also decreased from 77 per cent to 65 per cent.

When it comes to our values, 81 per cent of those surveyed say nothing is more important than kindness in 2022. Despite this, 30 per cent have admitted to hurting someone physically or emotionally, 61 per cent of us are jealous of the good fortune of others and 15 per cent have regularly trolled someone online.

Fear of the online world 

Distrust is gaining momentum in the online world. In 2020, 68 per cent of us said we no longer trust what we read online. Now that number has risen to 80 per cent. Additionally, 75 per cent of us don’t know what the truth is any more because of online manipulation. Now that number has risen to 79 per cent.

63 per cent of us fear expressing our honest views online for fear of retribution. And while back in 2020 53 per cent felt that there were no longer any shades of grey and that we are often forced to choose sides in a debate, this number has risen to 66 per cent.

Read: How to talk to older people about financial scams

Buzzword bingo 

A distrust in truth can also be attributed to the use of buzzwords. 81 per cent of Australians said companies choose buzzwords or industry speak, which makes it hard for us to get to the truth of what they are selling in 2021. Now, this number has risen to 87 per cent. 

78 per cent of us found ourselves reading about a product or service and wondering why it wasn’t written in simple English. Now that number has risen to 84 per cent. 

About the research 

This study was conducted by YouGov between 23 May and 1 June 2022. The questionnaire replicated questions from the previous five chapters to track how results have changed over time. The sample was comprised of 2000 Australians aged 18+, with data weighted by age, gender, and region to reflect the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates.

Do you think ageing is positively reflected in the media? Are you happy with the way you’re represented and marketed to online? Let us know in the comments section below.

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