Making sense of a shifting world: Ipsos Global Trends 2017

Ipsos latest Global Trends Report reveals three in four global citizens think their nation's economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful.

Making sense of a shifting world: Ipsos Global Trends 2017

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Ipsos Public Affairs
Get in touch

Washington, DC — One statistic is shaping the shifting trends in the U.S. and worldwide. It’s the singular concept we all agree on in established and developing nations in each hemisphere: Three in four global citizens think their nation’s economy is rigged to the advantage of the rich and powerful. In the U.S., 78% agree as do a majority in each of the 23 countries surveyed including a near-unanimous 94% in Mexico. This is leading to a Crisis of the Elites, one of eight overarching trends identified in the Ipsos Global Trends 2017. The study is a deep and far-reaching report analyzing more than 400 questions asked of 18,000 consumers and citizens across 23 countries. [See the full results at]

While the consensus is that the economy is rigged, how that actually plays out in the U.S. and other nations varies considerably. It’s a critical question for business and governmental leaders – and even the citizenry, who are all struggling to find out what these trends mean. What does the future hold here and how will it be impacted by changing forces abroad? The Ipsos Global Trends report offers a nuanced look at this Crisis and seven other trends. The data and analysis illustrate profound rifts between generations and other demographics and deep divides in opinions. They touch on a broad range of industries including technology, media, retail, packaged goods, and health care.

Below are a few highlights and sample statistics from each of these key trends in the United States and beyond.

  • The Crisis of the Elites: In the United States, the lack of confidence in the elites does not automatically extend to business: Trust in business is much higher than belief in the “system.” Consumers in the U.S. expect brands to be positive contributors to society beyond just providing good services and products.
    • 78% agree that the country’s economy is rigged to advantage the rich and the powerful
    • 46% agree with the statement: “I have a high level of trust in business in general” (47% disagree)
  • The Battle for Attention: Americans are conflicted regarding technology. They widely agree it improves their life and most can’t imagine living without it. Three in four of those surveyed say they look at screens constantly and nearly half feel like all their conversations are online. Two out of three find it hard to “switch off.” In this context, U.S. consumers dislike ads they see on their cellphone, tablet or laptop/desktop computer more than they dislike ads on any other media.
    • 73% cannot imagine life without the internet
    • 46% feel like all their conversations are online these days
    • 74% say ads they see when online are irrelevant to them
  • The Search for Simplicity and Control: To navigate the complexity of modern life, Americans seek both more autonomy and guidance. They factor online reviews into their purchase decisions, but also feel that trust in their favorite brands is more important than ever.
    • 82% are more likely to trust a new product made by a brand they already know  
    • 73% will look at online reviews if they don’t feel confident making a purchase decision
    • 70% agree that in a world of so much choice, brands they trust are more important than ever to them
    • 50% say they are comfortable providing information about themselves to companies in exchange for personalized services and products
  • The Rise and Rise of Tradition: Americans are anxious and have a complex relationship with change. Traditionalism and nostalgia are appealing and powerful. At the same time, Americans believe in progress and in individual choices.
    • 72% say the world is changing too fast
    • 69% would like the United States to be the way it used to be
    • 45% feel left behind by the progress and change happening in the country
    • 47% agree the pace of life nowadays allows them to achieve more
    • 82% agree gay men and lesbians should be free to live their own life as they wish
  • A Healthier World: Compared with citizens of other developed countries, Americans are particularly positive about the quality of healthcare that they have access to, about their own health in general, and even about their weight. In many ways, U.S. consumers treat healthcare decisions like other consumer choices: Most research on their own and don’t just rely on their doctors.
    • 74% say they always try to seek information on healthcare by themselves rather than relying on what their doctors say
    • 51% are satisfied with their weight
    • 21% have used a connected health device or tool to manage their health
  • Optimism Divide: Americans are much more optimistic about themselves, their family and their local community than they are about their country and the world at large. Personal and local community optimism is higher in the U.S. than in any other developed nation.  Looking ahead to the next 12 months:
    • 75% are optimistic about themselves and their family
    • 58% are optimistic about the city/town where they live
    • 38% are optimistic about the country
    • 31% are optimistic about the world
  • Uncertainty Is the New Normal: The vast majority of Americans think the world is becoming more dangerous and have a hard time knowing what or who to trust. Many are also feel increasingly estranged and disconnected.
    • 86% say we live in an increasingly dangerous world
    • 84% say there is so much contradictory information that it is hard to know who or what to trust
    • 70% say we are heading for environmental disaster unless we change our habits quickly
    • 53% agree that, these days, they feel like a stranger in their own country
  • Generation Strains: Americans tend to have a dim view of the opportunities for today’s youth. Young people are widely perceived as inheriting in a world where they will enjoy less physical, job and financial security than their parents’ generation did. In addition, young Americans suffer from a much more negative image than do their elders. Other than being tech-savvy, Millennials are primarily depicted (including by themselves) as being materialistic, lazy, entitled, and selfish. In contrast, Baby Boomers are revered for being respectful, work-centric, community-oriented, and ethical. 
    • 39% say today’s youth will have had a better life than their parents
    • 39% say today’s youth will have had a worse life than their parents
    • Words most often chosen to describe Millennials: tech-savvy, materialistic, lazy, entitled, and selfish
    • Words most often chosen to describe Baby Boomers: respectful, work-centric, community-oriented, and ethical

The press release is available for download on the right side of the page. For further analysis, visit

About the Study

The 2017 Global Trends Survey is an Ipsos survey conducted with 18,180 adults aged 16-64 (in the US and Canada 18-64) between September 12 and October 11, 2016. This is the second wave of the Global Trends Survey – a previous version was run in 2013 with 20 countries and the report was published in 2014.

The survey was carried out online using the Ipsos Online Panel System in 23 countries -Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. The 2014 wave covered the same countries, except for Indonesia, Mexico and Peru. Approximately 1000+ individuals were surveyed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Spain, Great Britain and the United States of America.  Approximately 500+ individuals were surveyed in Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey.

In established markets with a higher level of internet penetration (more than 60% online), the results can be taken as representative of the general working age population. However, in emerging markets where internet penetration is lower, the results should be viewed as representative of a more urban, affluent and ‘connected’ population. The results are weighted to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.  Total global data have not been weighted by population size, but are simply a country average. Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of don’t knows or not stated responses. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error,

and measurement error.
For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can  download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, the U.S., UK, and internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.

With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Ipsos Public Affairs

More insights about Culture