Today Atlantic Brand Partners, The Atlantic’s business services group, is releasing Forces of Influence 2.0, a study into how ongoing cultural unpredictability is affecting consumer perspectives. Most surprising for business leaders: despite industry-wide emphasis to address individual consumer needs, there is still a vast gulf between what consumers expect from brands and their perceived realities. In fact, only 13 percent of respondents feel more empowered by brands today versus two years ago. The balance of the Forces of Influences study explores why.

“While there are plenty of sources for consumer insights tied to the individual cultural shifts of the past few years, we noticed that not many were connecting the dots between them,” says Gina Bulla, executive director, Atlantic Insights. “For example, universal childcare or the great resignation both independently signal very intense perspectives; yet even more powerful is an understanding of what the collective force of those topics signal (in this case, the desire for security and power). We believe that type of synthesis can be exponentially more powerful for brand behavior in the real world.”

The topline findings are below, based on a survey of 3,000+ people in the U.S. and U.K and conducted online by Lucid, a programmatic research technology platform.

There are five Forces shaping behaviors today. They are, at a glance:

There’s a huge gulf between consumer expectations and brand realities.

There’s been a dramatic shift in how individuals are empowering themselves, forcing brands to consider how they can give consumers more control over their experiences.

The impact of the past two years was universal, but uneven—especially for young adults, women, and people of color.

The report is the second annual from Atlantic Brand Partners identifying the five underlying Forces of Influence that are motivating our behavior and continuously shaping our world, our industry, and the relationship between brands and their customers. The Forces are rooted in a universal human truth (i.e. identity, meaning, belonging) and the culmination of multiple trends brought together across the economy, politics, society and culture––and offer brand leaders a playbook for how to navigate 2022.

This year’s report also marks the launch of Atlantic Insights as a marketing research practice within Atlantic Brand Partners.

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