At the turn of the year, three-quarters worldwide thought 2020 would be better for them than the previous twelve months, and while their hopes may not have been realised, we can point to some positive signs of resilience. Overall levels of reported happiness haven’t changed in this difficult year, with health, personal relationships and security taking greater importance.
2020 is a year that will be forever defined by the Coronavirus crisis – we don’t need to be reminded of that. It has dominated the leader board on our global surveys such as What Worries the World, and we continue to live with uncertainties and changed realities even while moving closer to the vaccine roll-outs.
At Ipsos, we mobilised quickly to focus on tracking attitudes and behaviours throughout the pandemic and our experts have been understanding the impacts and shifts as they were unfolding. In Lives Disrupted, we look at how things progressed by turning our spotlight on four distinct moments of the last year.
The experience has been difficult for so many people around the world, and in Staying Afloat in a Crisis, our team started to unpack the various impacts of this multidimensional crisis, which are likely to be with us for some time. Now may be the time for brands to rethink. We unpack this in Shifting Context, Shifting Priorities, which looks at some of the new and different decisions made in the current context.
Here, we present a review of 2020 based around 10 broad themes including health, the environment, work, brands, gender and race/diversity. This aims to bring together some key findings from our global research and analysis that you might have missed during this dizzying year. You can find the sources for all the studies cited at the bottom of this page.
What kind of future?
The disruption caused by the pandemic has given us pause to reflect on the kind of world we want and the lives we desire for ourselves. While there was an initial rush of desire to return to normal, there are also indications of an appetite for significant change.
Our Global Trends framework reminds us not to overestimate the rate and extent of the change that takes place during a particular time period, as the values underpinning attitudes and behaviour take longer to shift. But early evidence from the team’s latest research does indicate that values have started to move in the wake of the year’s turbulent events, for example on the importance of taking action on climate change, a topic we return to below.
This has moved front and centre in our priority lists. Health and physical wellness is the number one source of greatest happiness globally. Coronavirus is the top health issue facing people today, ahead of cancer, and we are seeing greater emphasis placed on the importance of supporting mental health and tackling stress (the 3rd and 4th top biggest health problems, according to our respondents).
On a positive note, despite (or in recognition of) the pressures of this difficult year, there is increasing trust in health services to provide a good standard of care (+9 percentage points vs. 2018) – even if the system is overstretched.
Healthcare systems continue to evolve – one particular topic which has accelerated is the area of delivering virtual care, a theme explored by our team this year.
Our Global Trends survey found ‘climate emergency’ to be the top unifying value globally – and concern about the environment has certainly not diminished as the year has gone by.
Seven in 10 say that their governments would be failing their citizens if they don’t act now on climate change. Yet sustainability is also seen as everyone’s responsibility: individuals, businesses and government. We brought together our content on this complex topic in our page: The Sustainability Imperative.
Many aspects of our “offline” lives have shifted to online channels this year – from socialising to shopping, learning and working. Will these behaviours habits stick, and what will be the consequences? People do not find online shopping to be necessarily easier or more enjoyable. Meanwhile, more flexible working arrangements may be normalised in some countries. As we consume more media from online sources, there is the ever-present danger of misinformation.
Our work for International Women’s Day found that half of men think gender equality in the workplace exists but only three in ten women agree. Stereotypes persist around the role of women in society while our global survey earlier in the year looks at how public attitudes to gender roles are – or aren’t shifting.
Our global surveys have explored the perceptions of different countries, showing some clear winners and losers. The Ipsos/Anholt Nation Brand Index finds Germany leading the 50-country ranking. At the other end of the scale, the US and China in particular have not fared well in terms of which countries are expected to have a positive influence on world affairs in the coming decade.
Ipsos looks forward to continuing to track public opinion and developing trends into 2021. Continue to read our monthly research highlights in Ipsos Update and follow us on our social channels: Facebook, LinkedIn or Youtube.
This “2020 in Review” infographic was produced by the Ipsos Knowledge Centre in December 2020. Based on research and analysis by Ipsos teams around the world throughout the year, it presents a selection of research findings grouped around 10 themes, as we looked to better understand society, markets and people in an exceptional year - find all sources used here.