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The multi-billion dollar cost of looking good

11 October 2015

Australians are spending more than $100 billion a year on their looks, according to a Suncorp Bank Cost of Looking Good report.

The national survey of Australians (18-64 years), the latest in the Suncorp Bank Cost of Living series, puts a spotlight on the costs incurred in the pursuit of looking good and found over the past four weeks Australians spent an average of $594 each on clothes, accessories, beauty products and cosmetic services.

Victoria, the self-proclaimed fashion capital of Australia, is home to the biggest spenders, who spend 19 per cent more than the national average at $707 a month.

New South Wales spent $669 on average, 13 per cent more than average, followed by South Australia ($618) and Western Australia ($616).

Surprisingly, Queenslanders were the nation’s most thrifty, spending just $353 on their looks, 41 per cent less than the national average.

Suncorp Bank Regional Manager, Monique Reynolds said while the figures may seem high, Australians appear to be allowing for these expenses in their monthly budget.

“The research is designed to reveal spending behaviours and urges people to think about the real cost of their day-to-day activities,” Ms Reynolds said.

“It is great to see in many cases, notably hair and skincare products, cosmetics and professional haircare, Australians are spending less than what they’ve budgeted for.”

Ms Reynolds said the report debunked the men versus women vanity debate, revealing while women spend nearly twice as long as men on looking good at home (100 minutes a week compared with 60 minutes), men who had purchased hair products, cosmetics, and fashion, in the past four weeks spent significantly more than women.

“Nearly half of men indicated they had purchased skincare products in the past month and more than a quarter confessed to having bought makeup. They also outspent women in these products by 74 per cent ($125/$72) and 50 per cent ($173/$116) respectively,” Ms Reynolds said.

The report also revealed that looking good isn’t just expensive but involves a significant investment of time. Each month, the average Australian dedicates more than half a day at home getting ready, sourcing professional services or shopping for fashion and grooming products.

“More than a third said they only took the time to dress up for special occasions, like weddings and birthdays, and more than a quarter admitted they weren’t worried about their appearance,” Ms Reynolds said.

“While 25 to 34-year-olds were the most fashion conscious (more likely to purchase products and services to do with appearance and spending more on average), interestingly, the next generation of 18 to 25-year-olds didn’t rate fashion a priority.”


Other national findings from the report:

  • In monetary terms, casual fashion topped the docket at $1.2 billion. Sixty per cent of Australians purchased casual clothing during the month, spending on average $139 each month.
  • Other big ticket items included shoes ($828 million per month), professional hairdressing ($811 million per month), skin care products ($729 million per month) and fashion accessories and jewellery ($722 million per month).
  • Australians spent $612 million over the month on non-surgical cosmetic procedures like tattoos, body piercings, Botox and teeth whitening, with more than a fifth of respondents having undertaken these procedures in the past four weeks.
  • These services also accounted for the highest average spend at $193 per person each month, followed by corporate attire ($187), professional skincare ($172), manicures and pedicures ($164) and fashion accessories ($154) again rounding out the Top 5.
  • More people believed it important to look good in public than in the workplace (48 per cent vs 42 per cent). Men were 26 per cent more likely to have purchased corporate attire, although women thought it more important to look good in the workplace.
  • Most people wanted to look good for themselves (56 per cent), with their partners a close second (53 per cent).
  • Men who made a purchase in the past four weeks spent 37 per cent more on shoes compared to women ($164/$120), 56 per cent more on hair products ($100/$64), and a staggering 78 per cent more on fashion accessories ($201/$113). 

The Cost of Looking Good Report is the latest in Suncorp Bank’s Cost of Living Series. The series is designed to shine a light on how much Australians spend on common everyday activities and to promote the benefits of budgeting.

Media Inquiries: Ashleigh Paterson 07 3135 2562 or 0407 925 665 | Meghan Henricks 07 3135 2647 or 0408 533 590

About Suncorp: Suncorp Group includes leading general insurance, banking, life insurance and superannuation brands in Australia and New Zealand. The Group has 14,500 employees and relationships with nine million customers. Suncorp Group Limited is a Top 20 ASX-listed company with $94 billion in assets. Suncorp Bank is Australia’s leading regional bank servicing more than one million personal, SME and agribusiness customers.

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