Health versus wealth
Shutdowns have had a larger effect on those in lower paid work because so many of their jobs are in sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality. The self-employed are more vulnerable than employees. The accounts manager with an internet-connected computer can work at home with relative ease. The flight attendant? Not so much.
Wealth inequalities are mirrored by decidedly uneven attitudes elsewhere. Most recent Ipsos MORI data – drawn from our weekly Essentials Report – shows that health concerns are running at about half the levels seen in late February and March when around 50% of people polled in Spain and Italy said health was a high or very high personal threat. Around 40% of populations in France and the UK gave the same answers at the same time. By the end of June only around a quarter of people voiced the concern - though worries are running higher in Spain and lower in Germany.9
And the young, as mentioned before, think differently from their parents and grandparents. They are more sanguine about the COVID health risks, but also tend to be more fearful of financial futures.
Balancing key tensions – such as health worries versus stretched personal finances, economic recovery versus climate politics, rising inequality between the haves and the have nots, and the proliferation of data versus privacy concerns – all point to a world where trade-offs will need to be carefully managed if brands are to realise the opportunities and avoid the bear traps.
Expect the unexpected
Alongside all analysis of observed trends, we need to remember that unpredictability is a constant. Who wasn’t surprised by COVID? Only 4% of participants in the 2019 Ipsos MORI Global Trends Survey believed that an infectious disease was the biggest threat to societies.10 In health, wealth and consumer trends, it is as well to expect the unexpected and be ready to adjust, in real time, to surprises.
The short- and long-term trends show that consumers wish to be treated as individuals; that preferences change over time; and attitudes differ in different circumstances.
But ask me if there is a single quality that successful brands can use to tackle the challenges? The answer is empathy.
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