Global Trends 2020

Analysis: At a glance


Russians are least enthusiastic globally, but even there, more agree than disagree that it is the best system.

Two thirds of people want brands to do more than just provide good services – and say that brands’ social impact will become more and more important. Yet some 45% also say they don’t care about ethical behaviour of brands – they just want good products. At the same time more (62%) want brands to help them make a difference in the world, and say they are more likely to recommend brands that do.

Some 69% globally say supermarkets can be trusted to be fair – only 36% say their OWN government can be similarly trusted. What does that mean for retailers?

Whereas 56% of Canadians (44% of Americans) say their government is fair, that figure is under 20% in Italy, France and Spain, despite having far more generous welfare states than many other countries.


All over the world consumers say they will pay more for locally produced brands (59%), up from less than half a few years ago (45%). Stressing local credentials matters more than ever.

One of the biggest polarities is the gap between countries like Russia and Indonesia and most others on gay rights. In the West, gay rights have risen in acceptability over the last few years – not so in Muslim countries.

More than ever, people want their country to be “the way it used to be” – especially Americans, Indians and the French. In contrast, few Chinese
or Peruvians hold this view. In every country people feel traditions are an important part of society – this has risen again to a new high this year.


Russians are least satisfied with their standard of living of all countries surveyed, and are least likely of any country to be satisfied with what they have achieved in life (14% vs 56% in Germany and 61% in China).

People in developed nations – especially Europe and Japan – are much less likely to feel under pressure to be successful, compared to Russia, India and China. What does this say about the dynamism of their economies?


Overall a majority see globalisation as positive for their country, but views vary markedly. Rapidly growing markets like China, Indonesia and India are most enthusiastic, whereas citizens in mature economies are split – those in near recession like Italy and France are negative, but Britain and Sweden are more positive.

All over the world, everyone agrees a good work life balance is important. There is virtually no difference from 88% in Germany to 81% in China. However, there is a sharp divide on the importance of success at work: Brazilians, Indians and Mexicans say fulfilment comes from a prominent position at work – Germans, Japanese, Swedes and Spaniards all disagree. Indeed only in emerging economies do people say they are willing to totally change the way they live to be successful.


Indian, Chinese, Indonesian and Brazilian shoppers are twice as enthusiastic about online recommendations by stores based on their shopping history than the British, French and Germans – a consistent pattern.

People globally think that while technology improves life, and they can’t imagine life without it, it is also affecting them in a wide range of negative ways. For many, most conversations are now online, 62% say they are constantly staring at screens and 63% say young people’s expectations of sex have been made unrealistic!

Despite being the fastest growth area in advertising spend, there are strong signs that consumers are resistant. Most people everywhere say ads they get served are annoying, irrelevant and a distraction. Most disliked of all are pop up ads and videos you can’t skip.


Most people say they would rather discover things for themselves than have online recommendations. The challenge for online retailers is to keep improving algorithms so that people can feel in control.

Part of the global desire for control and transparency is a feeling of powerlessness – two thirds say the web means loss of privacy is inevitable.

Compared to 2014, in most countries more people say they are confident about how businesses use their online information, although there are still plenty of concerns. But a majority (just) say they do not mind what happens to their data provided it is analysed anonymously and cannot be linked back to them. Resistance to companies knowing one’s location and browsing history remains strong but is declining.

Most people agree that having brands they trust helps them choose when they have more choice than ever. Consumers are most enthusiastic about buying trusted brands in China, India, Indonesia and other emerging markets compared to Europe.


Despite rising obesity globally, when asked whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied with their weight, 44% are satisfied compared to 33% who are dissatisfied.  Most satisfied are the Indonesians (75%) and Indians (65%) with the most dissatisfied being the South Koreans (51%) and Japanese (46%).

Everywhere most people want to be fitter (86%). They also know what they need to do to achieve it – for example most also say they are constantly looking at screens (62%). The challenge is making the change.

In many markets the public want government to intervene to help them be healthier, but overall the world is divided. The US remains the least enthusiastic about government intervention in lifestyle choices.


Overall most people feel they are going to have a better life than their parents – but it’s the emerging markets that feel this decisively. In France and Belgium, a majority disagree.

Whereas emerging markets are optimistic about the future for young people, in mature economies views are completely the opposite – Western European nations Britain, France and Spain are the most pessimistic on the planet.



In every country, most agree we are heading for environmental disaster unless we make big changes fast. Everywhere people say big companies aren’t doing enough for the environment. But while most people agree climate change is caused by humans (80%, up from 75%), at the same time some 43% also agree it is a natural cyclical phenomenon. One interpretation of this is that people are confused.

The world is united in the belief that there is so much contradictory information, it is difficult to know who or what to trust (80% on average). Perhaps because of this, in virtually every country, over three quarters believe it is important to trust your intuition. The difficulty is that behavioural science proves our intuition is wrong much of the time.

73% of people globally don’t know what personal information companies hold about them, topped by Britain as the least informed at 83% and with Japan at the bottom, but still at 57%.

40% around the world feel left behind by the progress and changes that are happening in their country, rising to 58% in India.

The Future of Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people manage their health. It has challenged our medical systems and driven demand for new solutions. However, our data suggests these changes are not new but rather an acceleration of existing trends.