July 14, 2017 11:38 am

Like Bernard Salt, our nation’s most populous demographer, the analysts at B&P have been as excited as kids on Christmas Eve awaiting the release of the 2016 Census data. Will the B&P stocking be stuffed with answers from our wishlist as to how our ages, ancestry, incomes, family composition, religion and domicile have changed over the last 5 years? All of these elements play a vital role in our assessment of trade areas in order to build an appropriate F&B response.

Without census data to help us develop our insights we would never have been able to drive the growth for Mirvac’s Rhodes Waterside through identifying the doubling in workforce population and Asian ancestry that led to specific changes to the F&B tenancy mix. We would have built the tenancy mix for Chinatown in Southport incorrectly if we hadn’t been able to identify that the largest Asian group in this region was actually Korean not Chinese. And we might have miss construed the Tramsheds strategy to be too heavily fresh food focussed if we hadn’t been able to scorecard the census data attributes of the Forest Lodge trade area to show that food catering needed to be the hero.


Rhodes Waterside: just one project that relied heavily on demographic data to guide the F&B mix. Image source:

Luckily our team seem very happy with what they’ve unwrapped when the data was released on 27 June. There’s been no tantrums, no one wanting to return the data and exchange it for another size or colour. Instead, our guys are all playing happily with their new data and even sharing it with each other, grateful for what they have received. And in the spirit of Christmas we thought we would re-gift to our readers what we are feasting on census wise in the B&P office.

Life Is A Banquet…

Multiculturalism is a driving force in the food and beverage DNA of this great nation. Census 2016 tells us Australia has a higher proportion of overseas-born people (26.3%) than the United Kingdom (13%), United States (14%) and Canada (22%) with New Zealand only slightly below Oz at 23%. What’s more, nearly half of all Australians were either born overseas, or one or both parents were born overseas.

On one hand this is great news for F&B. This global heritage, set in an agriculturally and economically rich country means we can grow, import, sell, cook and eat out on a huge range of culturally sensitive food products and cuisine types. It’s great news for food retail and for centres in trade areas with strong European, African or Asian ancestry or immigration where cooking for large groups at home and a culture of dining inside the home dominates.

It’s great for levels of authenticity in food catering too. Have you ever tried an espresso in Malaysia – sure doesn’t taste right, but in Lygon Street or Leichardt, where it is embedded in the population’s heritage, it tastes mighty fine.


With 26.3% of Australian’s born overseas we are a truly multicultural nation. Image by: Jesse Marlow 

The bad news is this varied multiculturalism means there are so many cuisines that can feature that it’s hard for operators to get up a critical mass of outlets. Hence only around 2% of all restaurants in Australia have more than 3 outlets. This makes scalability hard and is a turn off for shopping centre leasing agents who need to work harder over a longer period of time to secure suitable tenants.

To help overcome this, B&P has been able to test and measure just what % of a trade areas demographics need to come from a single country of origin in order to sustain a specialty food retail outlet (for example an Indian Grocer) or the % of the trade area that needs to originate from a regional area or continent in order to sustain a whole specialty precinct (think Hawker Centre or Eataly). In this way, leasing can go to market knowing the traction to support will be there and operators will be keen to be involved and able to trade successfully for the term of their lease.

The Riches Are In The Niches

Census 2016 revealed that as a nation we are becoming more agnostic than we were 5 years ago, but what it also divulged was that some 5% of our national population now follows a religion that dictates certain food restrictions – Halal for Muslims, vegetarian for the Hindu and Buddhists, Kosher for Jews.

These populations are rising in number each census period and if they are over indexed in any trade area it is an opportunity to respond with a carefully curated food retail and food catering mix. Certainly our work has produced evidence of poor performance of ‘dude foods’ like Mexican in trade areas over indexed with Asians, or lack of attraction to lighter cuisines like salads when strong African or Indian ancestry is represented in the trade area. Understanding the dining DNA of differing races is now more important than ever.

It’s Easy As A,B,C But It’s All About X,Y,Z

Developing Shopping Centres for the last 50 years was easy as A,B,C:

A. Secure a supermarket or two.
B. Secure a Department store or DDS
C. Separate these anchors with a mall of specialty and throw in a food court

That was back when Australian shoppers predominantly were stay at home mums building their great Australian dream in the suburbs and raising the kids. They loved the convenience of a one stop shop where they could get a car park and negotiate prams along smooth conditioned pavements called malls and manage a multitude of household chores in a single outing and a single car park.

Fast forward to Census 2016 and we are now juggling the shopping and F&B aspirations for 6 generations with extremely varied F&B tastes.

You may have heard Bernard Salt use some creative acronyms to describe the traits of various demographics like the “PUMCINS” (professional urban middle-class in nice suburbs). If you’ve enjoyed those, you should find these acronyms we’ve developed applying a foodie lens to the census data a bit of a laugh too.

Let’s start with Gen Y. they are known to us as the SAPNI (Smashed Avocado, Price No Issue). Making up about 21% of our population, this major cohort of working Australians reside in inner city suburbs and are high on recent food currencies. They are responsible for driving the revolt from traditional fast foods brands to artisan food operations with an interest in provenance and sustainability.

Go to foods: hipster cafes for – you guessed it – avocado on toast; Sake Jnr for Poke; Nomad for charcoal zucchini flowers with truffle honey.


Simple yet infamous. Smashed avocado on toast has come to define the spending habits of an entire generation.

EIFONI (Eat If On Instagram). Say hello to Gen Z, AKA the Millennials, where unless it’s on social media it’s not on their radar. They are getting a lot of airtime in terms of the future of retail but at present their cohort isn’t as big as Gen X, Y or the Boomers.

Go to foods: Gourmet donuts; food trucks; and the highest booze consumption per capita of any generation.


If it’s not on Instagram it never happened. Get familiar with this sight as the Millennials continue to enter the dining scene.

EATWICHY (Eat Where I Can Hear You). Poor baby boomers – the noise at Mary’s Burgers is too much for their ageing ears, the lighting at Monopole too dim for their ageing eyes. Boomers have worked hard, put the kids through school and Uni and now with the spare cash from downsizing to Harold Park they are out in force at Tramsheds.

This is our largest demographic cohort and as boomers retire they will become the group most able to spend time (but maybe not money) in shopping centres. So before you turn your old food court into a food truck park with live music and backless chairs, better check if it’s the EATWICHY or the SAPNI tribe who dominate your trade area!

Go to foods: Firedoor, Chiswick at the Gallery, No 1 Bent St.

But that’s not the end of the list…

There’s the DUFORU (Dude Food Rules), the CAPSACs (Coffee & Pastry, Sit & Chat) and of course the young alpha generation we call the FIOHDITO (Food In One Hand Device In The Other) but we’ll cover those in another issue…

What A Cracker

Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our census joy and gained some insights into just some of the impacts demographics can have on the planning of food within development. In closing with a Christmas theme, our aim at B&P is to make every job a real “cracker” by paying careful attention to the demographics. By following our recipe clients will always find the proof is in the pudding. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!