• Transform magazine
  • October 01, 2023


Join the Dots report reveals people’s need for individuality


In a world of social media and globalisation, people strive to shape their own unique identity and stand out.

International customer insights agency Join the Dots has released a new research report on the topic of individuality.  

In the report, the analysts study individuality in today’s society, with input from 6,000 people across five markets - UK, USA, Poland, Brazil and Indonesia. The study aims to define what it means to be an individual in each country, and what prospects and insights this discloses for brands. 

Participants were given a list of statements, each relating to 14 universal consumer needs concerning the society, the power to change, togetherness, experience, productivity, control, choice, focus, escapism reward, individuality, improvement, trust and authenticity. From these, they were asked to select which are the most imperative to them when choosing brands, products and services.

When stating what they look for when deciding on a purchase, consumers in each market placed ‘individuality via self-expression’ differently in their ranking, showing that consumer mind-set and behaviour differ from one country to another. For brands, this means that adopting a global strategy will not achieve the results they hope for and that branding should be designed to be adaptable for every country it addresses.

The results from the report revealed that countries such as Indonesia and Brazil, which are developing with traditionally collectivist cultures, consider self-expression and individualism a lot more important than in the markets of the UK and USA, which are viewed as already established and traditionally vastly idiosyncratic. Poland, which possesses an individualistic market and has a history of communism, ranked self-expression in the highest place compared to the rest of the markets that were studied.

The reason why established economies considering self-expression as less important is because for privileged countries self-expression is not a luxury, it is a given. On the other hand, developing markets value self-expression a lot more, since they are still in a state of change and adaptation, trying to establish their values and themselves.

The report also showed that younger people tend to value individualism and self-expression via consumption significantly more than old people. While this may not seem like a revelation, as it is a well-known fact that young people tend to be more self-expressive, the size of the gap is between generations is surprising.

The findings display a major generational gap in the USA, with younger generations proving to be twice as inclined to consider self-expression as a decisive factor in their choice of brands as older generations. At the other end of the spectrum, Brazil has the smallest generational shift, specifically 5%, in spite of the fact that individuality is ranked higher in Brazil. 

This shows the different ways the trend towards individualism can be adopted by different countries. A bigger shift between generations points out that the trend is being embraced more swiftly, where a smaller gap shows a slower and steady change.   

The results from this report show that individualism is being identified by brands as something that respective industries can benefit from. People want to feel unique and special, so forming branding strategies that specifically address each audience is therefore essential in companies’ pursuit of success.

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