Design research report 2012

In July 2012, the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation commissioned Wallis Consulting Group to undertake research on the design sector. The aim of the project was to analyse and update existing data, and review the current use of design by Victorian businesses.

The research was to:

  • describe Victoria's design sector and the use of design by SMEs
  • provide a current picture of Victoria's design capabilities
  • measure the impact of design on the Victorian economy.

The study follows similar research undertaken in 2008, detailed in the report Five Years On: Victoria's Design Sector 2003-2008.


Wallis gathered the data through a combination of literature scan, stakeholder interviews, and telephone surveys targeting both design firms (300) and non-design firms (1,048). Most data was generated from the telephone surveys (developed by Wallis and the Department of Business and Innovation), conducted during September and October 2012.

To view these resources, please download the following:

Appendix 1: Literature Scan (DOC 223.5 KB)DOC icon

Appendix 2: Stakeholder Interview Report (DOC 154.5 KB)DOC icon

Appendix 3: The Design-Innovation Ladder (DOC 178 KB)DOC icon

Appendix 4: Survey Sampling, Methodology and Analysis (DOC 304.5 KB)DOC icon

Appendix 5: Survey Questionnaires (DOC 305 KB)DOC icon 

To view raw data used in the report, please download the Raw Data file (ZIP 667.26 KB)ZIP icon

Note: The Victorian Government encourages open access to and the sharing of Victorian Government data. However, please note the Terms and Conditions and copyright provisions outlined in the file.

Key research findings

  • Victorian firms spend $7.3 billion annually on design, with an estimated 195,000 people employed as designers or in related roles
  • the design sector has faced similar challenges to other sectors in recent years with little overall economic growth in the number of design consultancies
  • recruiting quality design graduates is now easier for businesses than it was in 2008
  • there is a clear link between the level of design use by firms and their innovation and profitability.

The research also showed that:

  • the design sector continues to be a significant component of the Victorian economy
  • use of design by business has increased slightly since 2008
  • small businesses are a major segment of design-using businesses, although many see little need for greater use
  • businesses in regional Victoria make just as effective use of design as their Melbourne-based counterparts
  • businesses that use design are more likely to innovate, and to attribute competitive advantage to their use of design and innovation
  • businesses that do not use design may have done so in the past with good results; however, persuading non-users of the value of design remains a challenge.


These findings:

  • have informed the development and implementation of the Victorian Government's design policy and programs
  • provide a reliable benchmark from which to measure growth in the design sector and business use of design
  • support the national and international positioning of Victoria's design capability
  • provide valuable information for marketing and communicating the value of design to Victorian businesses. 

Download the final report

Victoria's Design Capabilities Performance and Business Use of Design (PDF 1597.86 KB)PDF icon 

Victoria's Design Capabilities Performance and Business Use of Design (DOC 1339.5 KB)DOC icon