Nationwide research ‘Shift happens’ from Guardian Advertising reveals that despite a pessimistic national outlook, Britain in 2023 prioritises pleasure
The UK-wide study, which included a diverse and nationally representative survey of more than 2,600 adults, examines the national mood, what people are doing to live well and how advertisers can help.
Despite a pessimistic view of Britain’s health, wealth, government and economy, the research reveals the story of a nation taking happiness and fulfilment into their own hands.
The overall consensus of the study is that life has been tough, with 70% saying they feel like “we’ve lived through a collective trauma”. However, when asked to rate their happiness 91% say they are feeling “happy or OK”.
When participants were asked about the wider world, there was an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, hypervigilance and anxiety. Interestingly, the study suggests that a chaotic world has largely left people’s underlying levels of happiness unaffected.
Within the study nearly three times as many people rated their personal life as “good” compared to the “world out there”, while 62% say they have separated their personal lives from the outside world.
‘Shift happens’ also uncovers a clear opportunity for brands: right now, the world is ready for advertising that is impactful, culturally relevant and brings people joy. A deeper understanding of how people feel about life and everyday activities means that brands can tap into the things that really matter.
As a coping mechanism, people are taking control by putting themselves first. By mentally separating themselves from the headlines, they are more optimistic about the future. The research confirms this: 84% say they think their personal life will get better or stay the same, while 81% say that the world will get worse or stay the same.
Despite the trauma and upheaval of the last few years, many have experienced a therapeutic reset and moments of enlightenment: 72% say the last few years has made them re-evaluate what’s important to them, 68% are more focused on “living well” and 70% are just getting on with life and worrying less about what they can’t control.
The mainstream adoption of self-care means that people have learnt what makes them happy, what’s good for them and what to leave behind. A deeper understanding of “self” means that people are more confident when it comes to saying “no” to activities they don’t really like doing.
James Fleetham, director of client sales, Guardian News & Media, says: “I love this report because it answers the question advertisers ask us the most; what’s happening in culture? It combines trends that inspire our lifestyle journalism, quantified by stats that reflect how people really feel about life right now.
He adds: “Our journalists speak to real people, spot trends, connect the dots and reflect that through their reporting. It’s the job of our advertising team to help brands tap into that.”
Imogen Fox, chief advertising officer, Guardian News & Media, also commented: “This brilliant research presents a really clear business opportunity for brands: provide much-needed moments of joy to help people let go and feel good about life.
She adds: “One of the benefits of being a modern lifestyle brand is that we cover everything. Our pages are stacked with beautifully designed ideas to inspire, entertain and provoke conversation – a great place to advertise.”
Download a copy of the Shift happens report here.