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The Year That Was: What Trended in 2023

By: Mark McCrindle

The year 2023 saw an array of trends and events occur. From social trends to consumer shifts and developments in technology, we take a look at some of the trends that shaped the year and how Australians responded.

Rizz, Matilda, and AI voted words of the year

ANU’s word of the year was Matilda, in celebration of the Matilda’s, Australia’s national women’s soccer team following their 2023 FIFA World Cup performance, which was hosted in Australia.

The Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year was named to be “Rizz”¸ which means style or charm, and is derived from the word charisma. It is also a commonly used phrase among Gen Z. For the Collins Dictionary, the word of the year was deemed to be “AI”.

Viva Magenta named colour of the Year

Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2023 is Viva Magenta 18 which emanates with “vim and vigour” as Pantone describe. “It is a shade rooted in nature descending from the red family and expressive of a new signal of strength.”

Oliver and Charlotte were the most popular baby names

Analysis of the top baby names conducted in 2023 showed that the names Oliver and Charlotte continued to gain popularity amongst Generation Alpha babies – a trend that has been occurring for over a decade combined.

Australia’s financial status

Australian money in a jar
Above: Photo by Melissa Walker Horn on Unsplash 

At the beginning of the year, Australians were feeling optimistic with over a third (36%) feeling positive about the year compared to the year prior. In retrospect, we’ve gained multiple insights and gained further clarity about the Australian spirit, and despite an increasing number of interest rate rises and a cost of living crisis, these challenges have made Aussies stronger as evidenced by what we’ve uncovered throughout the year.

With 14 interest rate hikes since December 2021, it may be no surprise that almost two in five Australians (37%) expressed concerns about their financial sustainability, foreseeing that they would run out of money within a week if their income ceased. Yet, amidst the financial strain, achieving financial independence remained a top aspiration for more than half of Australians (55%), surpassing desires for regular holidays (50%), a good work-life balance, and owning a home (45%).

At the beginning of 2023, we anticipated a “recessionette”, which is characterised by restrained spending despite not officially being in a recession. We can see that although Australians would quickly run out of money if they were to lose their income, they are yet unmoved when it comes to achieving financial independence in the future.

The younger generations or first-time home-buyers continue to confront soaring housing costs. The price of a house today is 11.4 times the average Australian annual full-time earnings, a stark contrast to when Baby Boomers were entering the housing market and it cost just 2.4x the average full-time earnings in 1983.

The financial challenges facing young Australian families with children have invoked a heart string in their elderly family members. Three in ten grandparents (29%) financially support their grandchildren’s education by contributing around $2,000 per grandchild each year.

Taylor Swift named TIME person of the year

Taylor Swift CD Cover
Above: Photo by ROSA RAFAEL on Unsplash

Each year, Time magazine awards a person of the year to, according to the magazine, someone “who affected the news or our lives the most, for better or worse”. The shortlist included Hollywood strikers, Sam Altman, Barbie, King  Charles III plus others but Taylor Swift was given the title. TIME say: “She’s the first person to be selected because of her achievement in the arts, and is only the fourth individual selection who was born in the last 50 years. As the first woman to be recognized more than once, Swift joins a small group of repeat designees, alongside several U.S. presidents and world leaders.”

In 2021, TIME’s person of the year was Elon Musk. In 2022, Volodymyr Zelensky and the spirit of Ukraine took the title. Although making the 2023 shortlist for person of the year, Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI (the company behind ChatGPT) was named CEO of the year.

Hybrid work arrangements continue to shape the workplace

WOman working from home
Above: Feature image: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash 

Beyond financial pressures, the cost of working adds an extra burden to already tight budgets, amounting to $6,359 per year for the average Australian worker, equivalent to 9% of their after-tax earnings.

While at work, young Aussies who have just entered the workforce seek out praise from their employer. At least a couple of times a week, more than half of Gen Z (54%) would prefer praise for their efforts at work. Not far behind is Gen Y (45%), followed by Gen X (28%) and Baby Boomers (17%) needing less consistent validation.

Three years on after the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid work formats have become embedded into work culture. While positioned on flexibility, hybrid workers are feeling the impact of remote work compared to the workplace. More than half of Australian workers (59%) suspect that those working in the workplace get better opportunities than those working from home. Seven in ten (70%) workers believe that working in the workplace leads to a greater sense of recognition and appreciation of their efforts to commute to the workplace.

As hybrid formats continue to become embedded into the Australian work climate, employers need to be positioned to review the social impacts of how these influences effect remote and workplace workers alike in the years to come.

The year 2023 encapsulated the resilience and adaptability of Australians amid financial challenges, cultural transitions, and evolving work dynamics.


Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.

About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.

Feature image: Photo by Kajetan Sumila on Unsplash 

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