Travel Agents

Opinion: Tammy Marshall on why agents should target NEO consumers

Did you know that there is a consumer segment that spends three times more than everyone else?

This group is university educated and are more likely to work in professional or management role or run their own business. As a result of this, they tend to earn higher salaries.

But it’s not about how much they earn – it’s about how much they spend.

Say hello to NEOs: the New Economic Order.

Economist Dr Ross Honeywill says that society is split into two groups: NEOs on one side and Traditionals on the other.

He says that there are two kinds of NEOs – the ones that have made it and the ones aspiring to the NEO lifestyle. Honeywill says Traditionals are born that way and won’t change.

In his recent report, Honeywill explains: “NEOs are far from some small niche in society – they are a quarter of the population, and have powerful social and business clout.”

“They will buy new technology – all those 4G smartphones, tablets, WiFi devices, wearables and implantables –  but they’ll also spend their hard-won rewards on home extensions and renovations, travel, eating in and out, drinking, online banking, investing in shares and online high-interest savings accounts, and an entire range of services that make their lives easier, more individual, and more controllable.

“They vote governments in and out, fill our colleges and universities, and take professional roles and executive positions.”

According to Honeywill, there are 4.6 million NEOs in Australia and an additional 5.4 million Aspiring NEOs meaning that together they represent almost half of the population.

So how do you spot them?

Honeywill says you just need to hang out at a popular artisan bakery. NEOs are people who are willing to pay a premium for a really good croissant; the people who drive across town to buy the best sourdough.

NEOs are big on yoga classes, marathons, triathlons, jogging and running. They are considerably more likely to go snow skiing, surfing, sailing, scuba diving or learn to fly.

They love drinking good wine, eating out, and cooking at home for friends and family.

Multi-ethnic female hipster friends having lunch together at Italian restaurant

They are inconspicuous consumers and tend to avoid ‘blingy’ luxury and instead seek out quality with a sense of provenance and, at times, social conscience.

They are also massive consumers of media – they go to the movies, they read the paper, they watch movies and TV on Netflix and they love the Internet.

NEOs see themselves as intellectuals and politically align themselves with both sound economic strategy, as well as social responsibility making them hard to peg from a party voting point of view.

On the flipside, what does a Traditional look like?

Unlike the NEOs, the Traditionals are happy with organised holidays and coach tours where they can follow the leader.

They are comfortable with predictable experiences like the consistency of service of known brands. They find comfort in the certainty of crowds, majority rules, they are slower to adopt new technology, and distrust giving their credit card details to anyone.

When it comes to tracking down NEOs and targeting them, the internet is a happy hunting ground.

Much of the NEO life is lived online and they are happy to spend online—a place where they can accelerate the mundane tasks in life such as banking, joining online communities, booking travel, and shopping online.

In addition to their high level of discretionary spending, they are early adopters of technology.

NEOs seek the path less travelled. They love the discovery of the whispered secret and are driven by value rather than discounting.

Why is it worth finding them? They are in the top 48 per cent of discretionary spenders so there’s a good chance they could be your biggest and best customers.


Tammy Marshall is the founder of The B Hive – a business transformation consultancy that specialises in the Travel, Tourism, Hospitality, Leisure and Entertainment sectors. Throughout her more than 25 years’ experience in travel and tourism, she’s worked across leading brands such as TFE Hotels, Carnival Australia, P&O Cruises, AAT Kings/Inspiring Journeys, Contiki and more.

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