Social proofing our digital future
With a belief that tech should give more than it takes, Lush, in partnership with strategic foresight consultancy The Future Laboratory, has set out to fathom how this future might unfold in the new report: Digital Engagement: A Social Future.
This report investigates the rapidly shifting digital landscape, its impact on consumers, and existing barriers to digital transformation. Significantly, through the research conducted in this report, we are able to announce a revolutionary manifesto for all brands to access free of charge, in the hope of enabling an optimistic future of social with greater ease.
Five leading experts in the tech sector contributed to this research, and over 12,000 consumers across the UK, US and Japan were surveyed to understand their digital wants, needs and desires, and their views on the future of digital engagement and social media.
Why is a cosmetics company getting involved in the work of digital ethics? Well, because we all have a duty to care about the future of our planet and the life that inhabits it.
Jack Constantine, Lush CDO comments:
“At Lush we vehemently believe that digital rights are human rights, and without conscious change on a global, holistic level those rights are compromised.”
Annabelle Baker, Lush Global Brand Director: “We wanted to do a report to show the optimism around social. There’s been so much scepticism around Lush’s Anti-Social policy, we wanted to show that there’s a different future, beyond the one we see now, where people can engage within safe environments online. We need to be able to move the narrative from what we can’t do to what we can.”
According to our research, it’s something global consumers care about as well. Almost seven in 10 adults (69%) across the UK, the US and Japan believe that if a social media platform is unethical then brands should step away from it, with six in 10 (62%) respecting a brand who cares more about a social media platform’s ethics than the number of people they can reach.
At the same time, more and more consumers are spending less time on social platforms.
Over a third (35%) of Meta users (Facebook and Messenger at 17% and Instagram, 18%), almost a third of Pinterest users (27%), a quarter of Twitter (24%), Discord (24%) and Snapchat (24%) users, over a fifth of BeReal (22%) users, 18% of TikTok users and 16% of Line users, are on these social media platforms less frequently than a year ago.
A big reason for this could be that a significant 57% of consumers we surveyed felt like big brands and corporations dominate technology and online culture, while 55% want Big Tech to have less control online. Many are worried about safety, with 70% of those surveyed calling for global legislation that protects the safety of users throughout their digital experiences. Gen Z consumers in particular (54%), believe select groups are marginalized or ignored in digital spaces.
Consumers are expecting brands to help in the fight, with our research showing that 62% believe it’s up to all businesses to ensure digital spaces are ethical.
Despite growing concern about the impact of existing digital culture, techno-optimism continues to shine through. Digital platforms still offer numerous benefits that consumers hold close, including connecting with others (33%) and finding like-minded individuals (29%). A majority (57%), meanwhile, say tech boosts their productivity, with 39% saying social media helps them express their identity.
This positivity is being further fueled by a rapidly developing technology landscape, with artificial intelligence (AI), the metaverse and Web3 – the next, decentralized iteration of the internet – promising a new way of doing things.
To ensure that technological innovation can create exponential progress in a positive direction, this report presents The SOCIAL Framework manifesto. A set of six principles, for digital spaces, platforms and engagement, designed to enable a techno-optimist future to flourish.
The framework considers aspects such as:
Sustainability and the impact on the environment;
Open-source and how competition needs to be replaced by cooperation;
Community-controlled and decentralised data ownership;
Iterative and agility in an ever-evolving landscape;
Accessible and inclusive; and
The Future Laboratory Co-Founder Martin Raymond says: ‘Businesses must help to build a digital culture that promotes equitability, inclusion, representation, accessibility, transformation, and personal and planetary betterment.’
To explore these principles further and read more from innovators leading the way in each area, you can view the report here.
Lush will be at the SXSW festival from 10th-13th March 2023, with Lush House (with live streamed content available on the Lush YouTube channel) – a space to showcase how Lush is pushing the boundaries at the intersection of technology and cosmetics. Over the four days, Lush will be hosting conversations and presenting findings from this report. On 10th March Jack Constantine, Lush CDO, will open the House with a talk about Lush’s roadmap for digital divestment; while Annabelle Baker, Global Brand Marketing Director, will close the four days on a panel with special guest Frances Haugen (Facebook Whistleblower) to discuss what needs to happen to create a better social landscape.
For further information or interview requests please email [email protected] or call 0207 434 3948
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About Lush Research:
Research was conducted by Opinium Research between 13th-21st February 2023 amongst nationally representative samples of 8,000 US adults aged 18+, 2087 UK adults aged 18+ and 2,000 Japanese adults aged 18+
The research was conducted via online survey lasting 10 minutes amongst nationally representative samples in US, UK and Japan. Respondents were invited to take part in the surveys via email invitations and were incentivised upon completion. Respondents were asked to provide age, gender and regional demographic information and the data was then weighted to ensure nationally representative sample in each country. Prior to commencement of launch of the online survey, survey scripts (online) were thoroughly tested by at least two members of staff, including at least one core project team member. All scripts contained built in logic and edit checks to ensure quality data was collected – this included ensuring that respondents were true respondents (i.e. not bots) using Captcha, checks that removed respondents who answered too quickly or removal from the survey through inconsistent or ambiguous answers. We built in all necessary routing so that questions could not be skipped or answered unnecessarily. Quality of responses such as completion time and verbatim response was measured throughout fieldwork and responses were removed from the final data tables and written summary for those who failed these checks.
Lush is a cosmetics company with a campaigning heart, on a mission to leave the world lusher than we found it. Lush has and continues to fight animal testing, innovates to remove packaging and synthetic preservatives from its products; directly sources all raw materials and ingredients to have traceability and impact at a local level; and makes its own tech with the same principles as its products. Lush formulated its own set of Digital Ethics Policies in 2016, which are considered every time the company designs, builds or launches a digital product. They fall into the categories: open-source; ethical hardware; ethical data.
About The Future Laboratory:
The Future Laboratory is one of the world’s leading strategic foresight consultancies. It exists to help companies make a better future by giving them the confidence to take the decisions today that will create economic, environmental, technological and social growth tomorrow. From its offices in London, São Paulo and Melbourne, The Future Laboratory offers a range of strategic foresight products and services to help its clients harness market trends, adapt to emerging consumer needs, and keep them ahead of their competitors. Stay on top of the latest consumer trends and market shifts by visiting its trends, consumer foresight, and futures innovation intelligence platform, lsnglobal.com, and find out more about its client work at thefuturelaboratory.com