Trends Briefing: The World in 2024

Thursday 25th January 2024


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A New Volatility

Brexit, covid, criminality in Downing Street. The short reign of Mary Elizabeth Truss. The return of double digit inflation, fast-rising interest rates, soaring cost-of-living. The return of widespread, long-running and disruptive strikes. NHS waiting lists above seven million people. A government at war with itself.

A land war in Europe with a nuclear superpower, labour shortages, shortages of goods and products that were previously abundant. Temperatures in England surpassing 40C for the first time. Conflict in the middle east. The return of the Taliban.

The adoption of hybrid working, the arrest of the former Scottish First Minister, an American president facing jail on multiple charges. The sudden arrival of Chat GPT and fears over consequent job losses. A chainsaw-wielding populist in Argentina. The storming of the Capitol in Washington.


The Curse of Interesting Times

In the last few years we have witnessed a series of previously inconceivable and / or unlikely events in close succession. Outliers have become the norm. Cumulatively, these events have served to unsettle the British population in ways that are difficult to measure but noticeable. The result is a hit to collective wellbeing and heightened uncertainty.

In the long term, more significant change is coming which will exacerbate the issue. We are at the earliest stages of the journeys that climate change and AI will take us on. In 2024, elections in the UK, the US and India will help define the next decade of geopolitics.


Understanding the consumer response

A lot of this volatility is felt directly by consumers. There’s evidence that it’s a heavy burden to shoulder: the ONS’s own measures of wellbeing suggest that anxiety and depression are rising. Trust is low. Financial fears are widespread and the impact of deprivation is extreme.

But at the same time, our monthly consumer sentiment barometer finds that people are leaving 2023 in a better mood than they started it. Optimism, trust, consumer confidence and spending expectations have all recovered throughout the year. This owes as much to the terrible outlook last December as it does to consumer resilience.


An Essential Briefing

Despite the panoply of challenge that we face, could we be optimistic about 2024?

Join us on January 25th 2024 for an essential Trends Briefing as we look ahead to all that next year has in store for us. As ever, our insights and foresights will come with implications for brands, businesses, policymakers and charities and draw from our Optimism Index survey of 18,000 people per year.


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