The HumanKind Study: Bridging Consumer Concerns and Brand Opportunities

The Leo Burnett HumanKind Study and Good Study explore societal challenges in the US, Canada and Australia, highlighting widespread discontent and distrust. It reveals opportunities for brands to align with consumer values and foster empathy, trust, and positive change.

Leo Burnett US and Canada’s HumanKind Study and Leo Burnett Australia’s The Good Study have delved into the pressing issues and societal challenges faced by consumers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, offering a comprehensive analysis of consumer sentiments and highlighting opportunities for brands to engage meaningfully with their audiences. These studies, grounded in extensive primary market research, explore pressing concerns and illuminate opportunities for brands to authentically align with consumer values and needs. 

Commonalities Between the US, Canada, and Australia:  

Across the studies conducted by Leo Burnett in the US, Canada, and Australia, there is a shared recognition of societal discontent and diminished trust in institutions. In the US, concerns are centered around healthcare, financial stability, and the impact of technology on younger generations. Canadian respondents echo these sentiments, expressing worries about climate change, financial security, and a perceived disconnect between brands and their concerns. Leo Burnett Australia’s Good Study further underscores these issues with Australian consumers expressing a strong desire for brands to engage in social good and ethical practices. 

Key Findings in the US: 

The US HumanKind Study conducted by Leo Burnett Chicago identifies several core issues: 

  • Societal Unhappiness: 59% of respondents perceive a general unhappiness in society. 
  • Healthcare Skepticism: 47% lack faith in the healthcare system, with pronounced concerns among Hispanic/Latino communities. 
  • Financial Strain: Widespread financial insecurity despite economic growth. 
  • Technology’s Impact on Gen Z: Concerns over screen addiction and its effect on real-world relationships. 
  • Trust Deficit: Low levels of trust in both government and corporate America. 

Key Findings in Canada: 

The second iteration of The HumanKind Study by Leo Burnett Canada highlights similar themes: 

  • Increased Discontent: Nearly one-fifth of respondents are “not at all content” with life, a significant increase from the previous year. 
  • Climate Anxiety: A rising number of Canadians believe Earth is past saving, with fears about future habitability.
  • Financial Insecurity: An increase in the number of people who feel they will never be financially secure. 
  • Brand Trust Crisis: 82% of Canadians feel brands do not understand their concerns, up from 76% in the previous study. 

Key Findings in Australia: 

The fourth iteration of The Good Study by Leo Burnett Australia found that: 

  • Good is an Expectation – 96% of Australians believe it’s important for brands to do some form of good in the world, and 57% of Australians try their best to avoid brands that are not doing good. 
  • Generational Divide – Boomers are more likely than Gen Z to prioritize helping others despite differing beliefs, highlighting a nuanced approach to social issues. 
  • Governmental Accountability: Australians perceive governments and media as accountable for societal polarization, influencing support for actions that promote social unity and equity. 

 Opportunities for Brands 

All three studies emphasize the potential for brands to bridge these gaps by aligning their values with consumer concerns and demonstrating empathy and commitment. In the US, brands are encouraged to support mental health, provide transparent financial solutions, and foster community and trust. In Canada, the focus is on addressing climate concerns, enhancing financial security, and improving brand trust through accountability and progress. In Australia, there is a notable emphasis on ethical business practices and community engagement as avenues for brands to build trust and loyalty. 

Samantha Cescau, Head of Strategy at Leo Burnett Chicago states, “By aligning their values with those of their consumers and embracing a spirit of empathy and innovation, brands can help solve real human problems.” This sentiment is echoed by Tahir Ahmad, Chief Strategy Officer of Leo Burnett Canada, who notes that brands must listen to understand the concerns of Canadians to make a positive impact. “From its inception, Leo Burnett has always believed that ‘what helps people, helps business, and the [studies] show this has never been more relevant to consumers today,” sums up Leo Burnett Australia Chief Strategy Officer, Catherine King.  

The HumanKind Study and The Good Study serve as a blueprint for brands looking to navigate the complexities of today’s world. By understanding the underlying issues that shape consumer behavior, brands can create strategies that not only address these concerns but also foster deeper connections with their audiences. Leo Burnett’s approach underscores the belief that “what helps people, helps business,” suggesting that businesses that prioritize human values and authentic engagement will ultimately thrive. 

Download the US study here, the Canada study here, and the Australia study here