Five Consumer Forces Shaping Move

In March of 2020, we launched an exploration to understand how people’s lives are changing amidst the new realities thrust upon us by the pandemic, social unrest and evolving technologies.

As a study of humanity, COVID-19 created the context of the world’s biggest deprivation study – having forced people everywhere to spend time without. Without the intimacy of human touch, the normalcy of day-to-day routine, nor the predictability of tomorrow, we have been forced to spend time ‘within’.

More than a year marked by the turn of a calendar, we’d argue 2020 was a big bang into a new human cycle. The “inward“ part of the cycle will be with us for some time. And yet, the next stage in the cycle is inevitable as we move “outward” – emerging through this cycle with a greater sense of intention, innovation, inclusion and inspiration for what we can make possible.

You might be wondering what will change and what will revert back to the way it was? We believe that’s the wrong question. Rather, brands should be asking “what’s possible now that wasn’t even imaginable before?” In people’s forced constraints and introspections brought on by the global pandemic, they are developing heightened expectations of brands. To not just make better things, but to make things better. To make better choices. To improve life – individually and at scale.

Read on to explore the most durable and significant Signals we have identified that are creating the conditions for change in the Move Arena and beyond.

We Before Me

People are increasingly realizing their impact on others and others’ impact on them. At a rate and global scale never before experienced. Beyond debates of independence versus collective responsibility, we are seeing an increased recognition of interdependence…for survival. This is very meta stuff. But it’s also quite simple: When the quality of my survival is dependent on the quality of yours, I NEED you to do well. I NEED you to be healthy for my health. I NEED you to keep your distance, wash your hands, not come into work when you’re sick…so that I stay healthy. I NEED you to return to work…so I can go to a restaurant, travel, socialize, etc. We need each other. Beyond emotional love and belonging, we need each other in an important functional shift to an idea we’ll call “self-reliant interdependency”, i.e., I must do my duty to maximize my own survival, but so must you and you and you to maximize mine (not to mention your own). Individual actions create a greater collective outcome AND a better individual result.

Conversation associated with this signal had a total reach of 87.7 billion, and more than 194 billion impressions since October 2019. Monthly engagement peaked at 9.8 billion in June 2020 (+310% uplift in monthly engagement). Mentioned online 19 times per second globally in the past 2 years.


Cities across the world are changing to meet the needs of their citizens. In Barcelona, the Superblock Regeneration Project has transformed 7 million square meters – about twice the area of Central Park – from busy roads choked by cars to open community spaces where people can work, move, and play. 70,000 surface parking spots have been removed in Paris, as it seeks to repurpose congested inner-city roads dominated by cars and create a ‘city of proximities.’


Logistics firms are more emotionally relevant according to data from the Customer Agency, C Space. UPS drivers have become an intrinsic part of their communities. Alongside delivering vital goods, they took time to positively interact with customers, from simple conversations to playing games in the streets with local kids.


Carpooling services are revolutionizing the environmental impact we have through vehicle ownership. BlaBlaCar members organized almost 100 million journeys. BlaBlaCar carpooling reduced overall carbon emissions by 894,000 tons of CO2 which would have been emitted due to empty passenger seats. Every Zipcar takes 13 personally owned cars off the streets. In Boston, Zipcar has reduced single car ownership by 150,000 cars.


The growth of micro-distance EV services illustrate how we are increasingly interacting with our communities and built environments to move. Micro mobility investor and evangelist Oliver Bruce estimates that more than 1.4 trillion miles of annual US passenger travel—and more than 4 trillion miles globally—could be converted to micro mobility modes, an addressable market potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars.


Urban planners and designers are linking mobility, infrastructure, labor, health & social services, by prioritizing the concept of “care.” New York has proposed a new Department for Care, which would coordinate services including transportation and health.


While the car traditionally represents personal liberty, the community-orientated city is increasingly challenging the car’s role within cities at a regulatory and personal level. This shift is undeniable, with this signal gaining a total reach of 87.7 billion since October 2019.

Survival of the Simplest

Recent forced constraints have created a newfound focus on and gratitude for fundamental human needs of safety, love and belonging.In this, we are seeing both a fight for and a flight to simplicity. As people are more mindful of every decision, every interaction, every surface we come in contact with, they are forced to reduce.

To shift away from a lifestyle built around convenience, toward a more mindful approach to meeting their functional and emotional needs. Small wins over big ones. Replacing the fear of missing out with unity in the reality of “we’re all in this together”.

The freedom to do anything I want trumped by the chance to do the right thing by me and you. While the constraints are temporary, the challenge to survival and the satisfaction for simply getting through this, persist. At global scale. Surviving is its own adaptation. Doing so because we made things simple will have a lasting effect.


Conversation associated with this signal had a total reach of 47.1 billion, and more than 128 billion impressions since October 2019. It was mentioned online 12 times per second globally in the past 2 years. The signal resulted in a total of 131 billion engagements – whilst it had 3.9 billion engagements on average per month, the monthly engagement peaked at 10.8 billion in April 2020 (+179%).


Jens Martin Skibsted, Danish designer, entrepreneur and author, speaking at the World Economic Forum, says that while every city on this planet is too unique for another city’s transport ecosystem to simply be replicated, “simplicity and walkability are constant desires across models.”


Dabbawalas deliver hundreds of thousands of home-cooked meals daily to workers in Mumbai, India’s largest and busiest city. The Dabbawala network, which emphasizes simplicity, is recognized as one of the most efficient logistics systems in the world. That’s why executives from FedEx and Amazon have taken time to learn their secrets.


“Burbing”, or cycling every road in your suburb, is trending on cycling app “Strava”. Melbourne local Ben Loke burbed 852 miles without ever leaving the 3-mile radius of his home. He says that the best part of his journey was discovering small nooks and crannies in his neighborhood.


In 2019, the Oficina del Peregrino de Santiago de Compostela recorded almost 350,000 pilgrims, the highest number recorded. People reference a reduction in stress and depression and a yearning for simplicity as major factors for deciding to make the journey.


Significant numbers of city dwellers are moving towards rural areas even as cities expand. 33% of Londoners surveyed wanted to move to a new home, with a 126% increase in enquiries about rural homes by city dwellers between 2019 and 2020.


As consumers seek to reduce the ‘mental load’ of planning weekly shops and cooking daily meals, dark store-enabled, “ultrafast” delivery companies are getting funded and expanding across Europe, Asia, Russia, South America, and the United States. With dark stores in densely populated urban areas on the back-end, and armies of delivery people on bikes and scooters for the last mile, they’re betting that delivering items in just 15 minutes can be as powerful a wedge as Amazon’s promise of two-day shipping was in 2005.


PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 2021 UK Economic Outlook predicts that London’s population will decline for the first time in the 21st century as people move out. Urbanisation is still set to increase in developing countries, and 2/3 of global population forecasted to live in cities by 2050 (currently 50%).


Cities have embraced ’15-minute’ urban planning models, in which quality of life is improved by making everything accessible by foot or by bike. The city model limits the amount of time it takes to travel within your community and promotes social activity within your neighborhood, as well as a sense of civic pride and belonging.

The Sustainability Disconnect

By keeping “sustainability” at a distance through the abstract discussion of it, we keep the urgency of “the climate crisis” at a distance from people’s everyday lives. We therefore need to make the planet personal. To translate all the science, all the facts and figures, all the political posturing and corporate jargon into language, feelings and actions that mean more to more people. Because the one human truth we keep seeing and hearing from people is, “it’s not the environment, it’s my environment.” And when people hear companies, politicians and experts talk, they hear all about “the environment” not “my environment.” They don’t hear or see themselves in the conversation. Consumers WANT to act – but don’t know how.

Our social listening analysis underpins this disconnect, as the average passion score for this signal is a 30, versus an average of 81 across the other Move signals. (4.4 times per second).


A poll by YouGov and Cambridge found that 67% of people don’t trust politicians to tell the truth on climate change. 71% said they didn’t trust online influencers. 67% said that they did trust scientists.


Findings from an online Chinese consumer panel of 130 adults indicate that consumers are confused and skeptical of symbolic action or ‘greenwashing’, whereas they respond positively to tangible environmental action.


Shell has been rocked internally by influential shareholder Legal and General which joined a rebellion against its carbon-cutting plans. It was also ordered by a court in the Netherlands to cut its emissions.


Is carbon offsetting helping us towards net zero? Consumers are confused, with 49% surveyed unsure if carbon offsets had a positive or negative effect on the environment.


Investors say that sustainability will inexorably shape finance. Tesla, the world most valuable car company, only sells EVs and recorded a near-tripling of its brand growth this year.

Humanity in the Balance

In an era where time is a luxury, people are feeling robbed. Confinement and restrictions took away from them potential experiences and free movement, it felt like time was stolen, but now that there is light at the end of the tunnel, a new “all in” mindset has risen, where every action, every move, and every moment will be lived with conscience and purpose.

People are now projecting a shift in how they will behave, moving from consumption to creation, from taking from to contributing to. There’s undivided intent to add meaning to everyday decisions and for this they need to re-evaluate how they choose to live. What’s important isn’t anymore “what do I get?” but “what do I create?” by choosing a certain brand. It’s all about the butterfly effect: “small actions, big change”, finding meaning through every choice as a way of taking back some of that time that went missing and creating impact through routinary acts.


This signal had a total reach of 14.6 billion, and more than 31 billion impressions since January 2019. It was mentioned online 4.5 times per second globally in the past 2 years. The signal resulted in a total of 1.38 billion engagements – whilst it had 40.5 million engagements on average per month, the monthly engagement peaked at 63.2 million in December 2020 (+56%).


According to a Harris Poll study, the majority of Americans believe brands can help them live more meaningful lives, yet two-thirds don’t believe brands are providing products to help them do so. Brands must evolve from marketing, to mattering to people.


Airplane travellers seek new ways to mitigate their impact of flying on climate change, booking their tickets through platforms such as “App in the Air” which plants a tree for every flight booked as well as giving users a carbon calculator, so they know the true impact of their flight. 


Shared mobility also booms as it plays a critical role in reducing some of transportation’s greatest ills: congestion and pollution. With the extra benefit of convenience and saving money, carpooling plays a critical role in conscious movement, with companies like BlaBlaCar, with their motto #ZeroEmptySeats, announcing they have reached a scale where its operations can have a notable impact on the planet.


In the UK, Abel and Cole saw a 25% increase in sales in the last year. Oddbox recorded exponential six-fold year-on-year growth in revenue in 2020 and has a highly loyal and engaged community. Asian consumers are projected to demand more fresh and healthy options. Home delivery brands that play on new consumer preferences for seasonal, local and organic options are thriving.


74% of people in the UK think that garden cities are a clever idea to meet the need for new housing. A senior care worker cannot afford a mortgage in 98% of council areas in Great Britain.


According to MarketsandMarkets, the global water-soluble packaging market is projected to reach $3.7 billion by 2025, recording a CAGR of 5.0%. In 2014, 63% of municipal solid waste generated in the US was packaging materials – and only 35% was recycled or composted.


How the world eats is changing. Food delivery markets are now around 7 times larger than they were in 2018. Yet brands will need to manage consumer perceptions, as consumers across markets increasingly indicate that they would recommend a service if they have positive perceptions of working conditions for delivery drivers.


In India, India’s Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said he wanted only electric vehicles on Indian roads by the end of 2030. EV sales for two-wheelers in India increased by 21 percent in 2020.


China is likely to suffer from significant water shortages in the future. To combat this, young Chinese people are enthusiastically engaging with new ways to reduce their ‘water footprint.’


As conscious movement emphasizes sustainability, companies like Joby Aviation pose a new future for ridesharing: aerial ridesharing. The Joby aircraft is intended to be a four-passenger commercial aircraft with a pilot, near silent in flight, and bookable at the touch of an app with a per-trip passenger pricing. Joby plans to mass-produce its aircraft and operate a piloted on-demand air-taxi service. The aircraft will be electrically powered and run on zero emissions.

Heightened Expectations

More than ever consumers expect brands to have their backs, to make an impact both at an individual level and at a scale that wasn’t even imaginable before. To go past making better things to making things better, by continuously enriching people’s lives and engaging with the world around them.

There’s big a disconnect on what companies claim to do and what they actually do, and people are noticing. The “woke” culture is forcing brands to engage with people beyond consumption, beyond profit and as an act for the greater good, an act of selfless brand solidarity.

This conversation had a total reach of 1.84 billion, and more than 5.3 billion impressions since January 2019. It was mentioned online 41 times per minute globally in the past 2 years. The signal resulted in a total of 158 million engagements – whilst it had 4.64 million engagements on average per month, the monthly engagement peaked at 13.7 million in December 2019 (+194%).


In our brand benchmark it’s not uncommon to see one category shifting ahead of another in any given year – but accelerations in logistics were dramatic and saw a sudden and significant shift in the emotional relevance of the category as a whole. Simply put – during an ordinary year, deliveries mostly happen while you’re out. They’re a background noise at best, an administrative burden at worst. but in a world where you can’t leave the house, they have primacy. When you can’t get to the shop, you’re much more significantly aware of how the shop gets to you. In this context, customer / driver interactions became a social and emotional touchpoint.h, the monthly engagement peaked at 63.2 million in December 2020 (+56%).


In 2019, over 30 billion people used public transport in Japan, an increase of 2 billion in 10 years.


AccessMap enables users to enter a destination, and receive suggested routes depending on customised settings, such as limiting uphill or downhill inclines.


Singapore has recently won praise from the UN for its “user-friendly built environment”. Washington, DC has the world most accessible public transport network, with all of its 91 subway stations fully accessible.


US airlines such as American, United and Delta won praise after assisting the evacuation of Afghan refugees.


PayPal offered to rehome any employee who has been affected by the changes to reproductive rights in Texas.


Nissan joined the fight against petroleum and announced a 1 billion “Gigafactory” to boosting electric car production while creating thousands of jobs.


Researches Shelley Lin is developing technology which could revolutionize transportation for people with disabilities. Visually impaired people could soon be able to drive autonomous cars.


By 2030, DHL will have more than 80,000 e-vehicles on the road in line with its commitments to Paris Climate Agreement targets.


In future, frequent flyers could face an ‘airline tax’ designed to prevent hypermobility.


Brands are setting themselves up to play an active role in the way society develops. Toyota is broadening their scope beyond cars and into sustainable living. With a goal of “elevating happiness for humankind”, the Woven city is founded under a “Human-Centered” principle, which concentrates on the respect and prioritization of people’s needs and preferences. This takes them to a new level of mobility that incorporates people, goods, and information.