Meet the people of 2025

30 May 2023

Ontmoet de mensen van 2025

After three years of crisis (pandemic, energy, inflation, war), trend researchers are cautiously venturing again into predictions about the future. And what is striking: the crisis has severely affected the mood of people and consumers. There is a great tendency to consciously take a step back, to live differently, to devote more time to what we find important, and to seamlessly merge real and virtual worlds.

The British research firm WSGN has this spring defined four profiles of consumer behavior for the year ... 2025. Maybe you recognize yourself in it?
The new Nihilists
are withdrawing from the turmoil in the world around them, but that doesn't make them any less caring. They are once again finding meaning and happiness outside the daily mainstream. They are overwhelmed by global problems and they have lost confidence in the ability of governments or institutions to solve them. They discover that relinquishing responsibility can be a source of joy, giving them the freedom to live by their own rules, to discover new realities. They set their own standards of success and happiness beyond societal expectations. You could also call them deliberate dropouts from the system.

In a world captivated by everything bigger, better and faster, the Reductionists try to reduce their interactions to a more human scale. During the pandemic, they've been forced to deal more with screens than people, so they're trying to rebuild their real-life relationships and their sense of community. The reductionists are attracted to the tangible over the digital, and they are more aware of their impact on the world. They believe that economic growth should be a means to support people and the planet, not the other way around, and they shop with these values in mind. They still want their time-saving comfort and efficiency, but most of all they need things that are sustainable and ethical, driven by honestly paid employees and business models that give back more than they take.

The Time Keepers
, on the other hand, fight against the fragmentary culture of social media by investing their scarce time in things that add value to their world. Their focus is on creating a richer life through daily rituals and meaningful experiences. They refuse to be bothered by time, believing that schedules should fit around people (not people for schedules), and they refuse to be defined by them, tending toward intergenerational friendships based on shared interests rather than age. For these consumers, quality will always take precedence over quantity, and they are more interested in acquiring lasting memories than in material possessions.

The Pioneers
thrive on change and new ideas. They live with one leg in the physical world and one leg in the digital world, and they are determined to bridge the gap between the two. Here you'll find the future thinkers, technologists, and urban planners building new worlds, whether it's better-functioning urban places (think smart cities and inclusive transportation systems) or safer metaverse spaces. They like to be leaders and are driven by the need to make an impact.

These are the people of 2025. Trend studies always have the ability to focus on the future, but are often also selective in their view of people and the world. It helps brands, and policymakers, start reorienting their offerings today toward tomorrow's lifestyle. This study by WSGN is no different. However, it also raises my concern that these four profiles are mainly aimed at the 'have's' among us, but much less or not at all at a group of 'have not's' that is growing due to the long-term crisis. These may not be privileged consumers, but they are still people with their own values and needs. We must not leave them behind. Not even in 2025.