Value - Relationships under duress

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Today, people are forced to scrutinise every aspect of their livelihoods. With the increased cost of goods and services, they are faced with difficult decisions regarding how, where, and what they spend their money and time on. This study dives into the real human impact of the cost of living crisis and what brands can do to respond with more empathy and clarity.

Cynics, as Oscar Wilde argued, understand the price of everything but the value of nothing. The cost of living crisis has hastened changes sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming once-deemed temporary reactionary behaviors into profound, enduring societal shifts.

The products, experiences, and services we purchase to sustain us – providing food, cleanliness, safety, warmth, or contentment – now come at a higher cost, affecting everyone, everywhere. Individuals are delaying long-term decisions in the “fog of uncertainty,” making significant trade-offs in their lives (beyond merely trading down), with nearly a quarter reporting feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and isolation.

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Consider Toni, a participant in this project and a single mother of twins. Recently, she made the decision to sell her car to allocate additional funds for healthier food options for her kids – and an ice cream treat once a week. She is sacrificing convenience, status, and even freedom for her children’s well-being and long-term health, prioritizing meaningful moments of connection and memories.

VALUE: Relationships Under Duress delves into these shifts in the ‘age of uncertainty’: the tangible human impact and the role brands must play in this new relationship paradigm.

What has often been discussed in quasi ‘benign’ or economic terms – ‘inflation crunch, economic pressures, price increases’ – is, in reality, a perma-crisis that will take years to recover from, already influencing the way people interact with your products and services, your brand, and your category.

VALUE Methodology

Five months, half a dozen planes, seven languages, 1,376 curveballs, and a global team from three different continents working tirelessly to explore today’s biggest topic.

CS VALUE RUD Methodology scaled
  • Explore

    the social, psychological, and behavioural impacts

  • Learn

    about the real, human cost of living crisis.

  • Understand

    how ‘relationship thinking’ can help brands demonstrate compassion and clarity.

Value Study

Access the report and documentary

Download the VALUE report where experts discuss the COLC and its impact on people and brands.