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In the poem Warning, Jenny Joseph writes about how when she’s older she will cease to conform to society’s expectations and instead do what makes her truly happy, which includes (among other things) wearing purple with a red hat that doesn’t go, and spending her pension on brandy and summer gloves. New research from Old Salt and Little Wing has found that following the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re no longer waiting until we’re old to do what makes us happy…
Our proprietary investigation into the UK’s values and ambitions comprised expert interviews with consumer and business psychologist Dr. Dimitrios Tsivrikos, wellbeing and life coach Leanne Evans, and cultural and consumer trends expert Ruth Marshall-Johnson, as well as an online survey with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 UK adults aged 16+.
This research revealed that 8 in 10 of us have experienced a complete shakeup of our values and ambitions over the course of the pandemic. Intrinsic goals such as spending more time with family and friends, improving our mental and physical health, and generally spending more time doing what makes us happy have risen to take the place of more extrinsic goals like material wealth, professional status and perfection.
But while this shakeup of values and ambitions is true for the vast majority of us, the lived experience of it hasn’t been the same for everyone. For some, forced rest and a chance to reassess what makes them happy has been liberating, providing an opportunity to rebuild their lives in a way that makes them even more meaningful. Others have been more focussed on simply getting by day-to-day, but are emerging into a changed world feeling more empowered than ever before, emboldened to say ‘no’ to things that don’t feel right.
Old Salt and Little Wing have segmented the UK adult population into six groups based on how the pandemic has changed their ambitions and values. The first of these six, Stalwarts (14% of the UK), are characterised by a limited degree of change in their ambitions and values. The remaining five have all experienced a shift in their ambitions, values and outlook to varying degrees, with Strivers (11% of the UK) experiencing the biggest shifts.
Strivers are a younger segment, they’re optimistic about their future and the future of society but were deeply affected by the pandemic. A lack of certainty made them anxious, but they’ve used this period of change to their advantage and are pursuing their ambitions (most notably spending more time doing what makes them happy and living a more meaningful life) with a renewed sense of energy.
This reassessment of our lives and a collective focus on what truly makes us feel happy means we are now more discerning about how we spend our time and money. As a result, our relationship with brands has changed – we no longer want to be led, or to be told what we should aspire to and what will make us look good – we want to be listened to, and we’re looking for brands that make us truly feel good. The time for brands to act is now – as people look to adjust their lives in line with their new values and ambitions, there is a window of opportunity for genuine and long-lasting brand relationships to be built.
We’ll be diving deeper into the segments and what their shifting ambitions, values and goals mean for brands over the coming weeks. If you can’t wait until then to find out more, please get in touch!