EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Kevin Santos, Australia

Demand for QSRs “highly dependent” on demographic characteristics

Find out the implications of the 2016 Australian census for restaurant owners.

A good understanding of a state or area’s demographic characteristics and trends can be critical in understanding the level of demand for quick service restaurants (QSRs), according to Dr. Ann Evans of the Australian National University (ANU).

Discussing the 2016 Australian census and other sources during the 2018 QSR Media Detpak Conference and Awards, Evans establishes the rising population in the country but notes the “uneven” growth rates across the states.

For example, Tasmania and South Australia had minimal growth at 3% and 5%, respectively, as compared other states such as Australia, Victoria and the ACT.

“This is made up of growth from migration – both internal and overseas migration as well as from natural increase or births,” she explains.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS), the country is estimated have a population of 24.7 million people.

But what is already an old population is becoming even older. Looking at a study by the UN Population Division, Evans notes that 16% of the population is aged over 65 whilst the 15 to 59 working age group currently sits at around 60%.

“These are all of your customers, all of your staff, and everyone involved in running an economy in a country. That's one of the challenges for government in thinking about what they do about that decline of that age in our population,” she said.

The rise of lone person households
Evans, also a senior fellow in the School of Demography and Associate Dean (Research) in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, also highlighted the rise of lone or one-person households or people living alone in the country. From what was 16% in 1976, in increased to 24% in the 2016 census.

“It's partly due to the way our relationships are forming and dissolving; people now are not living in relationships to the end of their life. It's also due to the fact that life expectancy is increasing but increases at a different rate for men and women so that there's often a period of time where one spouse may have died and the other is living alone for the rest of their life.”

ABS’ Household Expenditure Survey in 2017 showed that lone person households have the second highest weekly expenditure on food spent on eating out and take-away, only behind “group households” that consist of two or more unrelated people where all persons are aged 15 years and over.

“They might find that buying and cooking food at home is actually more expensive than buying quick meals outside the home,” Evans explained.

A multicultural Australia
The census also indicated Australia’s multicultural society, with 33% of residents born overseas. 45% of people living in Sydney, specifically, are also born overseas with most coming from China, England, India Vietnam and New Zealand.

“Our first kind of ethnic restaurants were the Chinese restaurants you get in just about every country town across Australia. So the impact of different people from different countries coming into Australia affects not only your know(ledge of) them as consumers but also the kinds of foods that they want to consume,” Evans said.

But while the census itself does not deal explicitly with food consumption, Evans says the demographic characteristics can still be used to cross-tabulate with well-known behaviour.

“We can use this data to examine spatial variation of demographic characteristics which is probably one of the most interesting and innovative business tools that people can use,” she concluded.

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