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Community & Identity


What’s Happening

People are rethinking their communities, households and identities. Traditional markers of progression – such as buying a house or getting married – are being put on hold. These were already in decline before the pandemic, but COVID-19 accelerated this shift as people held off on marriages, divorces and having children. People are taking more control of their identities rather than adhering to stereotypes or expectations. 

The pandemic emphasised the importance of communities, with experts shedding a light on the importance of collective action and the shortcomings of individualistic cultures and societies. This thinking has seeped into consumer preferences, with research showing a surge in ‘localism’ around the world. From unequal vaccine distribution to a desire to buy local products, people are placing more importance on protecting their communities.

Despite a rise in nationalism and protectionism, many young people remain interested in exploring and learning about new cultures, and digital innovations are allowing them to cross borders to engage with others virtually.




of people globally say they prefer purchasing goods and services from their own countries.

Kantar, 2020



of Gen Zers believe that people should be able to define their identity instead of being labelled by society

Complex Networks, 2019


Local Lovers

People are investing in their local communities

The idea of a unified and collaborative world seems to slowly be slipping away. The pandemic has fragmented some international relationships and destabilised global institutions and organisations. In their place, localism is gaining ground, and people are increasingly looking to support their national and hyper-local communities – including brands. 




of people globally agreed that their local community became more supportive over the six months leading up to March 2021

Ipsos, 2021

Shake Shack

Case Study

Shake Shack: Chef collabs

In 2021, Shake Shack announced a series of localised chef collaborations in cities throughout the US. The partnerships are part of a project called ‘Now Serving’, allowing prominent chefs to put their own flair on Shake Shack’s menu and serve it to their community for one or two days. A portion of the proceeds will benefit a local charity of the chef’s choosing. 


Digital Relations

People are seeking connections through virtual means

Loneliness was rising before the pandemic, with some even considering it an epidemic in its own right. The social isolation that came with lockdown measures heightened these feelings – 41% of people globally reported becoming lonelier over the six months leading up to March 2021. 

With restrictions on physical meet-ups lasting throughout most of 2020, many social interactions shifted to the digital landscape. From online food groups to mental health forums, people sought virtual connections that gave them a sense of belonging. As people continue to grow accustomed to digital gatherings and relations, brands are finding opportunities to harness new avenues and channels to reach consumers in innovative and meaningful ways.




of people in Australia, the UK, and the US plan to attend both virtual and physical events in the future even when it’s safe to gather in person.

Eventbrite, 2020

Case Study

NIKELAND on Roblox - Where Sport Has No Rules | Nike

Given Gen Zers' preference for digital spaces and communities, Nike is joining them in the metaverse to build new relationships. It has teamed up with Roblox to create Nikeland, a virtual world that encourages people to play games together like tag, dodgeball, and ‘the floor is lava’.

Learn More

Promoting Unity

People want brands to help bring communities together

The polarisation of political views has created a wedge between those on opposing sides, resulting in a lack of openness and collaboration. From a contentious presidential election and rising scepticism towards vaccinations to conspiracy theories around everything from COVID-19 to the US postal service, people’s opinions are divided. Against this backdrop, people expect brands to take a stand – 97% of consumers globally believe international cooperation is important for addressing global challenges.



of people globally say they believe brands could play an even greater role in providing stability in a polarised world

WE Communications, 2019

Meat & Livestock Australia

Case Study

Meat & Livestock: Make Lamb Not Walls

In January 2021, Meat & Livestock Australia launched a humorous advert to rebuild a sense of togetherness. Set in the year 2031, it imagines a future where Australians are separated by a great wall across state lines. However, the smell of a freshly cooked lamb chop through a crack in the wall breaks the tension, causing people to come together over their shared love of a BBQ and destroy the wall.

Read more on The Queensland Times

Ark of Taste: Saving near extinct foods

Ark of Taste is an online catalogue of over 5,500 foods from over 150 different countries, which educates people on why culinary heritage is important. People can alert the platform when they see ingredients from their communities at risk of extinction, so it can build new connections between small producers, consumers and policymakers in the hope of saving these foods.



Case Study

Food Bloggers: Resurrecting ancient dishes

A growing number of Chinese food bloggers are trying to resurrect ancient, heritage foods. The cooking videos are shared on social platform BiliBili, allowing viewers to get a sense (and taste) of Imperial-era history as well as cuisine, with each blogger doing meticulous research into culinary archives and historical literature.

Learn More

Twinings: Shaking up tea-drinking culture

Tea brand Twinings is cracking tea-drinking stereotypes and conventions by targeting a younger and more diverse audience with its campaign ‘Alive in Every Drop’. The campaign speaks to the younger generation’s demand for inclusivity and focus on well-being, showing a man dancing before pouring his morning tea, a young woman having a moment of serenity with a flask by the beach and musician MC Nino performing live with a cuppa nearby.



Case Study

Maltesers x Channel 4: Revealing realities of motherhood

As part of it’s campaign #LoveBeatsLikes, which seeks to open the discussions around maternal wellbeing, Maltesers and Channel 4 produced a one-off comedy exploring the messy reality of maternal mental health. The episode, called Late Night Feed, features comedians covering everything from the experience of bringing home a newborn to the importance of family and friend support.

Read more


To help you shift insight into action, we have developed a toolkit of 7 resources. You can use them all for a full planning session, but you can mix and match these based on which you feel are most relevant to the opportunities you are addressing for your business and your brand(s).

Toolkit Cheat Sheets

These cheat sheets used in conjunction with the toolkit provide useful stimulus for workshops or any kind of trends team work. While you can download and use yourselves, please contact the Thinking House for more material and support.

Macro Trends