Australian Consumer Survey

The third Australian Consumer Survey (ACS) report was released on 15 December 2023.

Australian Consumer Survey 2023 – Full Report [PDF 1.89MB | DOCX 3.50MB]

About the survey

The Australian Consumer Survey was introduced as part of the implementation of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

Three consumer surveys have now been conducted, in 2011 (shortly before the law came into effect) and again in 2016 and 2023.

The findings presented in this report are from the third iteration of the ACS and where possible, this report compares ACS data over time, identifying trends for both consumers and businesses.

The 2023 survey measures knowledge, awareness and perceptions of the ACL among consumers and businesses, and their experience of dealing with problems when selling or buying goods and services – including any unintended burdens or impacts.


Where consumers are purchasing products and services from has changed markedly since 2016, fuelled by COVID‑19, globalisation, and associated trends towards online shopping.

More often than not, problem purchases are now being made online (55%).

This is in stark contrast to 2016, when only 23% of problem purchases were made online and 42% were made in person.

See section 8 for further information on the way consumers purchase products and services.

Overseas based businesses and consumer rights

Online purchases are also more likely to have been made through overseas based businesses than in 2016 (31%, was 20% in 2016), with the proportion who do not know where the product or service is from also on the rise (14%, was 9% in 2016).

Some consumers aren’t confident that Australian consumer rights apply when purchasing from an overseas based company: half of all consumers surveyed (49%) do not believe this to be the case; mostly because they do not believe overseas companies are being governed by the same laws as in Australia.

This translates into a widely held belief (consistent across all states, territories, and geographic remoteness levels across Australia (as derived from the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia Plus) that it will be more difficult to resolve a consumer rights breach if the company is based overseas (84%).

See section 4 for further information on overseas based businesses and consumer rights.

Emerging risks to consumers

Compared to 2016 the incidence of Australian consumers who have been targeted by a scam or defrauded grew at a rate of 250% (from 4% to 10% in 2023), the fastest rate of growth of any problematic purchase aspect.

Other problem themes emerging with significant growth since 2016 are high pressure sales tactics (rising significantly from 4% to 7%), unclear contract terms and conditions (also increasing significantly since 2016 from 11% to 15%).

Interestingly, compared with 2016, consumers have experienced a decline in a number of problematic purchase areas to do with product quality (poor workmanship, poor quality item) and product delivery (delays with repairs, problem with warranty, wrong item).

See section 8 for further information on emerging risks to consumers.

Declining perceptions of businesses about the Australian consumer protections

Some perceptions held by Australian businesses about consumer protection and the Australian Consumer Law declined since 2016: businesses agree to a significantly less extent that the Australian Consumer Law adequately protects the rights of consumers (91% in 2016 down to 71% in 2023).

For the first time, less than half of businesses agree that Australian Consumer Law favours the consumer over business.

These declines could be understood against the backdrop of the rise of the online market and a new set of emerging risks to online consumers, including the significant uplift in 2023 of concerns which overlap with frameworks for online safety as well as personal privacy (including fraud, manipulative sales techniques, misleading information and misrepresentation).

See section 12 for further information on declining perceptions of businesses.

Potential to influence

Across the research findings there are subgroups of both consumers and businesses who are ‘underperforming’ or ‘at more risk’ than others when core elements are assessed. These subgroups are generally less aware, have lower levels of knowledge and are more likely to have experienced problems suggesting they are more vulnerable groups in the community.

For consumers this includes younger Australians, culturally and linguistically diverse audiences, new migrants to Australia, and those who have lower levels of education.

For businesses, this includes small businesses defined via employee numbers and annual turnover.

There is an opportunity to consider these subgroups when reviewing, designing or implementing policy or practice initiatives, activities or communications to assist in ultimately influencing their future awareness, knowledge and behaviour.

This report includes detailed analysis of First Nations consumers to support the work of regulators. At times, this analysis suggests that First Nations consumers are at lesser risk than other cohorts.

For example, they are significantly more likely to self‑report high levels of understanding of consumer protection laws (see section 4.2). In addition, First Nations consumers show greater willingness to seek out information or advice about their rights (see section 6.1), and greater awareness of dispute resolution services (see section 7.4).

However, while this group may be somewhat more resilient due to greater awareness around their rights, they are also considerably more likely to run into problems when purchasing products or services. Indeed, 72% have experienced a problem over the past two years compared to the national average of 61% (see section 8.1).