causes that count

A year of turmoil shapes the causes that matter most to people

Revolt's Causes That Count 2024 reveals stabilised global issues—poverty, conflict, and climate change. Founder Alex Lewis urges brands to address its top 10 concerns

By Alex Lewis

For many, 2023 was a year of evolving international turmoil, with escalating wars, an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and the effects of climate change being experienced around the world. However, despite this volatility, we are actually seeing a stabilisation of the key issues that matter most to people.

Each year, Revolt produces Causes That Count, an annual index ranking 50 issues that matter most to consumers, and in the 2024 report we have seen the likes of famine and food security, government transparency, and access to healthcare all staying firmly in the top 10. This is significant for brands looking to understand the causes deemed most important by consumers and to identify which most need their support.

Poverty, hunger and homelessness has been the number one concern for people around the world for the past two years. Inflation has been the driving force behind this, with rising food prices, mortgage rates and rental costs significantly affected. Brands need to stay focused on consumer needs and actively support those that need it most.

Large scale conflict and wars has risen from fifth place in 2023 to number two in this year’s report. Much of the focus has been on Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but there are many other conflicts across the world - the Global Peace index highlights 79 affected countries. Brands will be rightly focused on their rising costs and supply chains, but should also look to how they can provide support for communities affected by conflict.

Climate change has moved up one place from fourth in 2023. Last year, we witnessed unprecedented extreme weather and research shows that consumers increasingly see the link between this and climate change. It’s therefore essential for brands to focus on the impact climate change is having on people’s everyday lives, such as soaring food inflation. There is also an opportunity for brands to present products and services as beneficial to both people and planet.

From Revolt’s research, it’s clear that the top 10 issues are now settling down as the key causes of our time. While the broad issues are largely settled, the ways in which these will impact on people’s lives will continue to evolve. By delving into the intersections between seemingly distant causes, we can gain a deeper understanding of our changing world, spot ‘white space’ opportunities for brands to create impact, and anticipate future developments in the causes they are committed to.

In ‘work-care balance’, we identified an intersection between work-life balance – in 24th place in this report - and care for the elderly, at 13. Achieving a harmonious work-life balance has emerged as a paramount concern for companies globally, especially those who place particular focus on the needs of parents. However, there are currently millions of people worldwide who, while maintaining employment, are also dedicating time to caring for aging relatives. Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world's population over 60 years will nearly double from 12 per cent to 22 per cent. This means that brands must proactively adapt to the changing dynamics of their workforce to attract and retain talent and foster a positive workplace culture.

‘Inevitable Disaster’ sees a new normal for FMCG brands, with an intersection between natural disaster relief and Famine and food insecurity. The accelerating rate of natural and man-made disasters has a serious impact on food security. With over 80 per cent of the world’s most food-insecure individuals residing in disaster-prone regions, FMCG brands must focus on proactive strategies for future disasters. While brands such as LVMH and Mastercard have been praised for their responsiveness in moments of catastrophe, companies need to focus on the long term, understanding how disasters will impact their portfolios, supply chains and communications. There is also an opportunity for brands to take new leadership in ‘disaster marketing’ focused on adaptation rather than reaction.

And, in ‘rethinking air pollution’ we see a worrying intersection of pollution of local environment and mental health issues. 57 per cent of the global population living in urban areas are potentially at risk from the air they breathe, water they drink and spaces they inhabit. And research undertaken at Yale University in 2021 found significant associations with particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide – substances attributed to air pollution - and increased suicide risk. Other mental health issues are being linked to air pollution too, including heightened levels of depression and anxiety in children. Brands have an opportunity to take positive action, through smarter logistics, supporting city-level distribution to democratise the benefits of clean air, or telling emotive stories that raise awareness of this worrying intersection.

The stability of Revolt’s top 10 causes should send a clear signal to brands whose operations touch one of these issues that there is both a need and opportunity for them to step up purposeful action. Equally, for brands looking to align with a cause that has broad consumer appeal, the top 10 now represent arguably the best bets. However, the ways in which key issues impact on people’s lives will continue to evolve. By looking at intersecting trends, brands can see just how significant issues such as air pollution and inevitable disasters will be in the years to come.

Alex Lewis, Co-founder, Revolt


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