NEWS12 March 2020

The future is a foreign country

News Privacy Trends UK

UK – Ipsos Mori’s CEO, Ben Page, shared a whistle-stop tour of consumer trends with one eye to the future, on the second day of Impact 2020.

Ben Page

“Most predictions are wrong. The more we know that, the more comfortable we will be when something does happen,” said Page as he opened his session sharing insights and trends from Ipsos Mori’s global trends research.

“Everyone – in every sector – is really bad at predictions, except for weather forecasting. Pollsters are good sometimes but they have to get close to the event,” he added.

Carried out among 22,614 16- to 74-year-olds across 33 countries in June – July 2019, the research findings covered most aspects of modern life.

Twelve key trends were identified: climate antagonism; conscientious health; authenticity is king; data dilemmas; the tech dimension; peak globalisation; a divided world; capitalism’s turning point; reactions to uncertainty and inequality; the enduring appeal of nostalgia; search for simplicity and meaning; choices over healthcare.

The five global values, measured by value intensity, were: climate emergency; trust in medicine; regulate big tech; aspiring to health; and fear of the future.

A fear of the future was clearly affecting various areas with 45% thinking ‘our children will be poorer than us’.

Other worries that came out in the data included that 47% think even scientists don’t really know what they are talking about on environmental issues and 77% think it’s inevitable we’ll lose same privacy with a rise in data apathy.

Page questioned whether we were reaching a turning point in capitalism, with 77% thinking wealthy people should pay more tax and 74% thinking the economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful.

How businesses fair in this is interesting. “People want businesses to speak up,” said Page, citing 78% saying you can make money and support a good cause at the same time.

Nostalgia is here to stay – 50% want the country to ‘be the way it used to be’. But Page added: “We want the bit of the past that makes us feel comfortable.”

When it came to climate change there was widespread agreement on the basics:

  • 82% – the climate change we are currently seeing is largely the result of human activity
  • 80% – we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly
  • 79% – companies do not pay enough attention to the environment
  • 66% – it is important that people in my country switch to electric motors in cars.

And while coronavirus was touched on a few times throughout his talk, Page didn’t dwell on it in detail. However, he did say: “We’re generally good about panicking about negative things.”

He also pointed out that the businesses that do best have good teams and trust each other when they go into crisis.

Wrapping up his keynote, Page shared several points where there are contradictory trends in terms of consumer thinking.

  • We have a climate emergency but there’s no agreement on response
  • There’s data anxiety but also rising apathy
  • A sense of a loss of the future but challenges to elites
  • A friction between local and global outlooks
  • We are searching for simplicity and good health but also seeing a rise in hedonism
  • We want authenticity and we’re also increasingly sceptical.