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Community & Identity

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. 

Read more on www.thrillist.com

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

Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Case Study

Scotch Malt Whisky Society: Online communities

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has become one the most successful whisky clubs, with 27,000 members globally. During the pandemic, it pivoted its ‘home for whisky lovers’ to the digital landscape by introducing an online members’ room, virtual tastings, a new tasting kit (complete with glassware) and remote pub chats and quizzes to replace IRL festivals and meet-ups.

Visit the Scotch Malt Whisky Society site

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

Harnessing Heritage

People are looking to connect with their culture and heritage

People are looking to better connect with their heritage and celebrate their culture as part of their identity. This is likely to be especially prominent in countries that are more multicultural. Identity exploration is becoming paramount as people seek an extra layer of authentication regarding who they are. It’s why many are exploring their family history through DNA testing, spurring an interest in things like heritage travel.


DNA testing is expected to exceed

$2.7 Billion 

by 2030

Transparency Market Research, 2020

Case Study

Gousto: DNA Dishes

In October 2020, recipe subscription service Gousto launched DNA Dishes which encouraged people to check their heritage and create meaningful connections with dishes matched to their results. It sent customers a free at-home DNA kit from Living DNA and used the results to recommend recipe ideas.

Visit www.gousto.co.uk

Cracking Conventions

People want brands to recognise and celebrate a wider variety of life stages and choices

People are celebrating individual choices – whether that’s being single, choosing not to have kids, making a drastic career change in your 50s or challenging gender stereotypes by becoming a stay-at-home dad. In turn, they expect brands to support these shifts, placing more importance on different life stages through their products and messaging.



of residents in mainland China believe that couples should buy a home before getting married

Anjuke, 2020

Burger King
Case Study

Burger King x Birds of Prey

Burger King partnered with Warner Bros. on an anti-Valentine’s Day campaign that was part of the promotional push for Birds of Prey. The movie focuses on DC Comics character Harley Quinn after her dramatic break-up with the Joker, leading BK to celebrate singledom. On the 14th of February 2020, people were able to drop a picture of their ex into a Birds of Prey-themed break-up box at branches across NYC, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco, receiving a free Whopper in return.

Read more on www.marketingdive.com


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