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How do you market to the ‘traditional Aussie’ when there’s no such thing?

Technology & Data

How do you market to the ‘traditional Aussie’ when there’s no such thing?


Census data shows that only 5782 Australians fit the mould of a ‘traditional’ Aussie, so it’s no wonder brands trying to target mass audiences are having trouble connecting. Jane Waterhouse explores how to engage the real Heartland of Australia.

This article was sponsored by Bauer Media Group to let readers know about its latest insights for marketing to the real Heartland of Australia.


Traditionally when marketers talked about the ‘typical’ Australian, they pictured a 38-year-old woman of English ancestry, married with two kids, a three-bedroom house and two cars. That’s certainly what the first release of data from the 2016 Australian Census seemed to confirm, but a later deep dive by the ABC revealed a different picture entirely.

When looking at religion, country of birth, marital status, dwelling type and how many cars per household, only 5782 people have the same common characteristics across the country. The ‘ordinary’ Australian doesn’t really exist, certainly not in large numbers, and therefore neither does the traditional idea of a mass market audience.

For those of us in the marketing and content business, this poses a challenge:

‘If you have a mass market product, how exactly do you connect with women?’

It’s worth remembering that there are common human needs that unite us all. Putting food on the table, having a roof over our head, love, purpose, belonging – these needs exist regardless of race, age, religion, socioeconomic status or sexual preference.

These human needs speak to an audience we call the ‘Heartland’ because the only way to truly connect with this diverse group of women is to speak in a language from your heart to theirs.

It sounds simple, but for many marketers, this signals a major shift in thinking and creative.

You need to be close to your audience to find out what drives them and what makes their heart sing, fret and skip. Then it’s about producing a great creative idea that taps into the universal need. One piece of powerful creative can speak to multiple segments when it connects with a potent truth.

So how do you do it?

Storytelling works as women buy into stories that speak a truth that resonates. Humour is also an important ingredient when appealing to Australia’s Heartland. Aussie women are really good at having a laugh at themselves.

An example of this thinking is our recent campaign for the Holden Equinox featuring comedian and Instagram personality Celeste Barber – a woman who embraces the fact that she’s not perfect. The campaign used this authenticity and humour to appeal to the hearts and minds of Australian women to great effect.

I understand that creating a campaign like this may feel like a risk. For a lot of brands, it’s vastly different from what they may have done in the past, but you only need to look around your office and see the diversity of the people with whom you work.

We live in a purpose driven world today and women are attracted to brands that have a purpose that resonates with them.

My recommendation is to try something new, and then stop, review, learn, adapt and grow – this will give you the scope to convince every level within your business of the approach. Social media is so perfect for delivering this sort of intimacy at scale while receiving feedback from your audience. If it’s a success, you can then expand the reach.

In recent months, women all over the world have become more vocal than ever about attitudes and communications that don’t fit with them. Brands that embrace diversity and a redefined womanhood are reaping the rewards. But the time to act is now.

You need to start applying this lens immediately because the next generation will be even more diverse. In the US alone, Generation Z is on track to be the most ethnically diverse generation in history with 49% of Gen Z from ethnic minorities. By the time the 2021 Census rolls around, it will be painting a very different picture of Australia’s Heartland and only the brands that take that into account now will be able to achieve real cut-through.


Jane Waterhouse is the general manager at Story54, Bauer Media’s insight-led commercial storytelling division.

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 Image copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo


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