Latest News: “This Digital Life”
This week we’re launching Havas Worldwide’s latest Prosumer Report—“This Digital Life.” It explores life in the post-technology era—a time when digital tools have become so infused into our daily lives that they cease to offer meaning beyond their utilitarian functions. Our survey found widespread dissatisfaction with the direction in which society is moving (socially, economically, politically, environmentally), leading people to question whether we can put the brakes on our current dizzying rate of “progress” and find a better, healthier, more satisfying way in which to move forward. The study incorporates findings from an online survey of 7,213 adults in 19 countries.
Key findings include the following:
•Modernity has long been synonymous with progress, but the idea of the future doesn’t make us dream anymore. Sixty percent of the global respondents believe society is moving in the wrong direction. More troubling, 4 in 10 sometimes feel they’re actually wasting their lives. Seventy-two percent worry about society’s moral decline.
•While just 10 percent believe digital technology will have a negative effect overall on the world, 42 percent believe it’s too soon to tell—suggesting a relatively strong level of distrust and unease about what is to come.
•Are we getting dumber? Half the sample worry that digital technology and multitasking are impairing humans’ ability to think deeply. Around two-thirds believe society has become too shallow, focusing too much on things that don’t really matter.
•Social media and online data collection are chiseling away at our privacy—and a lot of it is our own fault. Six in 10 think people should stop sharing so much of their personal thoughts and experiences online; they believe society needs to reestablish its privacy boundaries. Concern is most pronounced for the millennial generation: 7 in 10 believe today’s youth have no sense of personal privacy (two-thirds of millennials agree).
•There’s some irony in the fact that this age of hyperconnectivity is making us feel less connected. More than half the sample worry that digital communication is weakening human-to-human bonds.
•Those of us immersed in major political campaigns won’t be surprised to hear that a majority of people (58 percent) worry we’re losing the ability to engage in civil debate. Seven in 10 worry about increased political extremism, while 64 percent are concerned about the rise of paranoia and conspiracy theories.
•More than a quarter of the sample (and one-third of millennials) say social networking is making them less satisfied with their own lives.
•Despite all the freedoms people in most modern societies enjoy, we’re also feeling a longing for the order and structure of the way things used to be. Six in 10 worry about the loss of formality and the rise of a culture of “casual everything.” Half the sample (including just about equal numbers of women and men) expressed concern over the disappearance of clear gender roles. And 49 percent worry about the loss of religious faith.
•Our Culture of More has proved unsatisfying: A majority are tired of overconsuming and are looking to scale back and live more simply. Four in 10 say they’d be happier if they owned less stuff.
•Attention, 1%: Nearly three-quarters of respondents around the world are worried about the growing gap between rich and poor.
Methodology: Based on an online survey of 7,213 adults in 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Fielded by Market Probe International.
The researchers used Havas Worldwide’s proprietary algorithm to identify within the sample those men and women who qualify as Prosumers (16 percent). We pay particular attention to Prosumers’ responses because these influential, leading-edge consumers typically offer an advance glimpse of what the mainstream will be doing and thinking six to 18 months from now. Additional data breakouts are available by country, gender, age group, and income.
What It Means for Marketers: Things to Think About
•Globalization and new technologies have given birth to a new world, run by a new order—but would we have chosen it if we knew 20 years ago what we know today? And what choices and changes should we be making now to ensure we’re not still adrift or riddled with doubts when a new generation is born? We know from our earlier studies that consumers will be looking to corporations and brands for clarity and help.
•Our Culture of More and digital lifestyle have proved unsatisfying and unsettling for many. People are looking to replace hyperconsumption and artificiality with a way of living that offers more meaning and more intangible rewards—even as they wish to maintain the modern conveniences upon which they’ve grown reliant. Marketers will need to be mindful of these shifts as we work to create brand preferences and add values that speak to these new priorities.
•The communications industry will have a role to play in helping people feel a greater sense of control and security, including making consumer choices that offer long-term satisfaction rather than a quick “sugar fix.” And corporations, as we have explored in depth in our Future of the Corporate Brand and New Consumer studies, have a myriad of new societal obligations and expectations to fulfill.
•We have so many tools at our disposal today to shape our individual existences. Now people are seeking to apply that same level of control to society and the ways in which it is evolving. We’re going to see more of a push for a sort of “hybrid” way of living that combines the best of the old and new—keeping current conveniences while holding fast to those traditions and values that are in danger of disappearing. Whether it involves spending time digging in the dirt in the garden, immersing oneself in literary classics, or purchasing artisan-made products, people will seek to temper the new with the old, the artificial with the natural, the digital with the analog. In this way, they’ll create a way of living that offers more meaning, comfort, and, ultimately, satisfaction.
For complete findings from the study, please go to www.havasworldwide.com/prosumer-report—and get in touch if you’d like additional information.