Opinion: Conformity values intensify as the surge to rebellion stalls: Implications for Australian industry and innovation

By Denise Hamblin, Head of Sensory, Kantar

Over the past decade, we have tracked social values of Australians from a time of enjoyment where values were the freedom to enjoy life in the community, to a time of conformity where values were safety and security. Most recently we began to see movement away from conformity towards a time of rebellion where values are the courage to change everything, one predicted trigger of this being a global pandemic.

Now finding ourselves in the grasp of COVID-19, we were curious to see the impact on values and the nature of the desired outcome. Data collected earlier this month shows an intensification of conformity values with 72 per cent of our population aligning with a predominant desire for safety and security. Although we have seen a small decrease in rebellion values at this time, an astounding 21 per cent of this shift has come from enjoyment.

Thinking about where to from here, the desired outcome of COVID-19 showed a comparative uplift for one aligned with rebellion versus conformity values: Innovation that improves life for all rather than Playing by the rules to manage risk. Driven by younger generations it appears only a matter of time before these values guide what we respond to most positively, albeit stalling for now.

Industry-wise we have found that much opinion has changed: positively for the medical industry, federal and state governments and grocery retailers; and negatively for foreign governments, big business, the insurance industry and clothing retailers. Although, this change was measured as short-term for retailers, Australian’s responded that these changes are likely to be long-term for foreign governments and the insurance industry.

This gives us some insight in terms of who should be communicating and contributing at this time and the nature by which they should be doing so. Australians are looking to today’s leaders and praising them for their stance and their support – who else can join them? What short-term change in opinion can be leveraged or turned around for more long-term impact? And if the desired future outcome is indeed innovation, how do we prepare for the challenge as the tide turns?

 Denise Hamblin

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