Dr Ross Honeywill – author & social scientist


Honeywill Pic 1

Ross Honeywill

is an Australian social scientist, internationally published author and consumer strategist. Dr Honeywill specialises in demand economics, consumer research and social equity, and the understanding and application of value theory to national and global corporations.

He is an Associate Professor (adjunct) at the Tasmanian School of Business & Economics and Director of the Centre for Social Economics, an international think-tank and strategy group based in Australia. He is also CEO of the NEO Group, a strategy consultancy working in North America.

Dr Honeywill has advised global and national brands including Lexus, Sony,  Moët-Hennessy, Yahoo!, Texas Utilities, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Westpac Broking, David Jones, Foster’s Group, Fairfax Media, ACP Magazines, Macquarie Bank, Tourism Victoria, Energex, among others.

Creator of the NEO typology – a powerful population classification that maps and measures high-value consumption in the US and Canada – his work is in demand in North America (NEO) and Australia (Desire Economics). Ross Honeywill has been researching social patterns for two decades.

In 1997 professional services giant KPMG bought his Values Bank Research Centre and renamed it the Centre for Consumer Behaviour with Honeywill as its inaugural director in the Asia / Pacific region until 2001. He soon became an internationally recognized authority on the impact of a rapidly changing social fabric on business and management. Prior to KPMG he was a research director and business strategist. Before that, he worked as a retail manager for national chains and in arts administration.

Ross Honeywill has a PhD from the University of Tasmania. He has served as Chairman of Tasmania’s Festival of Voices and was a board member of the Melbourne International Film Festival. He was chairman of judges for the 2013 Tasmanian Literary Awards.

Dr Honeywill now lives in Tasmania, Australia, with his installation artist wife, Dr Greer Honeywill.


Bestselling Author

Ross Honeywill’s business book NEO Power (Scribe, 2006) has created an international following, and his sell-out first book I-Cons was published in Australia, New Zealand (Random House, 2001) and Mainland China (Citic, 2004). His most recent business book One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One, published in North American, recently became an Amazon top 100 bestseller in the business/consumer category.

In 2008 Ross Honeywill’s first creative non-fiction book was launched to critical acclaim at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. The book, Lamarck’s Evolution: two centuries of genius and jealousy (Pier 9), launched him to a general readership. His next book WASTED, the roller-coasterstory of the violent and creative life of Jim McNeil, a bestseller in Australia, was published by Penguin in September 2010 (Penguin’s Viking imprint). WASTED was shortlisted in August 2011 in the Ned Kelly Awards for true crime writing. It is currently under development as a major motion picture.

Of Lamarck’s Evolution the Melbourne Age said, “Spellbinding reading…a story full of arch enemies, machiavellian conspiracies and passionate debate”.The Canberra Times said, “Honeywill writes beautifully in this fascinating story”.

Of WASTED Bob Ellis said, “A fine, nuanced narrative – this is a remarkable road trip movie of a book” and Corrie Perkin wrote “Honeywill is a great storyteller…this engaging narrative wil have you turning pages vigorously”

Ross Honeywill is currently working on Angel’s Trumpet, his debut novel.


  • 2001: I-Cons: the essential guide to winning and keeping high-value customers (with Verity Byth) Random House
  • 2004: (Chinese edition) I-Cons: the essential guide to winning and keeping high-value customers (with Verity Byth) Citic Publishing, Mainland China
  • 2006: NEO Power: how the new economic order is changing the way we live, work and play (with Verity Byth) Scribe Publications
  • 2008: ‘Managing the Innovation Faultline’ – chapter in Inside the Innovation Matrix (with Verity Byth) Australian Business Foundation
  • 2008: Lamarck’s Evolution: two centuries of genius and jealousy Pier 9 (a Murdoch Books imprint)
  • 2010: Wasted: the true story of Jim McNeil, violent criminal and brilliant playwright Viking (a Penguin imprint)
  • 2012: One Hundred Thirteen Million Markets of One: How the New Economic Order can remake the American economy (with Chris Norton) Fingerprint, USA
  • 2014: ‘It’s Not a Glass Ceiling; It’s a Masculine Fault Line’ – chapter in Gender Discrimination and Inequality, The Spinney Press – editor J Healey
  • 2015: Masculine Madness – the normality of evil in the Western cultural imaginary (International academic publisher)
  • 2016: Angel’s Trumpet a novel (recipient of Arts Tasmania grant 2014) – under construction

To read more about or to buy the books…click HERE


Social Economics (Australia)

Ross Honeywill is founder and director of the Centre for Social Economics. Social economics is the study of the social causes and consequences of economic behaviour. In other words, social economics investigates the relationships between the economy and society. Social economists address such questions as, how do social attitudes and social intelligence affect behavioural economic outcomes? Social economic theories do not move in lockstep with those of orthodox schools of economics, which often make the assumption that ‘actors’ are self-interested and can rationally make decisions. It often takes into account subject matter outside of what mainstream economics focuses on, including the effect of social attitudes on consumption and wealth.

Using Social Economics, Honeywill has identified the Desire Economy. Consumer demand can, in economic terms, be broken down into its constituent parts – needs and desires (wants). Consumers need to own a car. The majority act on that need and, frequently imitating what they’ve seen on TV or in the choices their friends make, find the right car at the right price. Those in the Desire Economy, however, desire to have a car that goes beyond basic needs, a car that feels beautiful, looks sexy, with a roof that goes up and down at the touch of a button. There are millions of Desire Economy consumers and they’re willing to pay a premium for premium products and experiences that match or stimulate their heightened levels of desire. They spend more, more frequently, than anyone else.

The 4.5 million Australians in the $6 billion Desire Economy need the commodities of life just like everyone else. But it’s what happens next that sets them apart. And next, after the satisfaction of needs, comes elective consumption. For consumers in the Desire Economy, needs are a given. They are however constantly vigilant for experiences that either exhibit or stimulate desire. They both need and elect to spend money in response to desire.


NEO Consumer Typology (North America)

Developed for the North American market, Ross Honeywill’s NEO typology is defined by 194 factors, and is a complex model with a simple interface. It has three master consumer types:

  • New Economic Order (NEOs)
  • Evolving NEOs (Evolvers)
  • Traditional Economic Order (Traditionals)

Each type is scored to 5% increments (i.e. each has 20 detailed levels). There are 60 million American NEOs and 6 million  Canadian NEOs.

NEOs are largely metropolitan dwellers, with more of them living in inner urban NEO cities like Denver (Colorado), Vancouver (Canada), San Jose (California), San Francisco (California), than anywhere else.

While NEOs range over all age groups, they tend to be younger than Traditionals. NEOs exceed the national average in every profile between age 20 and age 50, while Traditionals exceed the national average in every age profile above  50.

Half of all people with a college degrees are NEOs. Put another way, when compared to Traditionals, four times the number of NEOs have college or university degrees. They are as committed to learning a living as they are to earning a living.

NEOs are most likely to be in professional or management occupations and earn more than the rest of society. Specifically, they are five times more likely than anyone else to earn in excess of $100,000 pa. Ninety-three per cent of NEOs are in the Big Spender category, compared to only 4 per cent of Traditionals (many of whom earn high salaries or are wealthy).

The NEO typology is a consumer classification defined using Psychonomics – standard psychographics (values, attitudes & behaviour) + a statistical discriminant model (SDM) using multivariate modelling (to characterize the differences between consumer types) + a spending propensity model (SPM) to identify the respective economic impact of each consumer type.

Psychographics + SDM + SPM  =  NEO typology
             Population data

It operates at a societal level providing an analysis, across the population and the economy, of the consumer types that are the most influential – economically, politically and socially. It therefore sits above, and can easy integrate with, market segments developed at an enterprise level.

The NEO and Evolver consumer types are psychographically similar, but may exhibit different spending characteristics (an Evolver may have a majority of NEO attitudinal and values factors, but not conform to the requirement by the NEO algorithm to also be in the top 25% of spending). The Traditional consumer type is statistically (behaviourally and attitudinally) different to both NEOs and Evolvers.


Philosophy of Science

Ross Honeywill is also well known for his work on Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck, an 18th-century science philosopher who, pre-dating Charles Darwin by 50 years, created the first comprehensive theory of evolution. Honeywill, citing the work of Dr Edward J. Steele, created a concept he called meta-lamarckism bringing together the best of both Darwinism and Lamarckism.

According to Dr Honeywill’s work on Steele, forces outside DNA are at work determining which and why different genes are turned on or off. Meta-Lamarckism has RNA collecting changes from the soma (body cells) and not only taking them back to the germline (sex cells) but also translating them into DNA language. Characteristics acquired during a lifetime are being transcribed back into DNA.

Reflecting on Steele’s work and the visceral reaction it produced among some scientific communities, Dr Honeywill stresses that the real issue is whether a modern, well supported Lamarckian theory can be devised, consistent with well-documented parts of modern molecular genetics, and be able to be articulated with a surviving core of Darwinian natural selection. A kind of meta-Lamarckism that combines the best of both Lamarck and Darwin. One outcome of this research was the publication in 2008 of Ross Honeywill’s book Lamarck’s Evolution: two centuries of genius and jealousy.


Social Philosophy and Gender Equity

Ross Honeywill developed the social philosophy of masculine madness threatening the human race. He contends that underpinning the dominant masculinity lays a dangerous feature unique to men – masculine madness. All men, ordinary and exceptional men, beasts and angels, share a potential for acts of unimaginable harm. This is the normality of evil. Masculine madness is not a pathological condition, not madness or insanity in the traditional or psychiatric sense, but rather is the masculine potential for an eruptive evil in the normality of the everyday. While this potential for masculine madness resides in every man, each decides whether or not to succumb. They choose, consciously and unconsciously. Those who resist choose to be on the side of the angels. The remainder choose the beast, allowing it to awaken and wreak havoc, frequently on those they most love.

One outcome of this project was his new book Masculine Madness: the normality of evil in the Western cultural imaginary.


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