Humankind study finds a growing number of Canadians are ‘not at all content’ with life

While the threat of Covid has largely been diminished, the emotional and physical toll of the pandemic has left Canadians feeling “less content” with their lives than they were a year ago, says the second iteration of Leo Burnett’s HumanKind study.

Like last year, the study of 4,127 Canadians touches on multiple aspects of Canadians life and society—from people’s feelings about climate change and parenting in the age of social media, to personal finances, the next normal, and the country’s social fabric. It also provides a primer for how brands can tactfully address these key issues.

The study found that nearly one-fifth of respondents (19%) are “not at all content” with life, up from 10% last year. The number of people who said that they are “not really content” also jumped, from 26%  in the 2022 study to 36% this year.

There were also increases in the number of people who agree with the sentiment that Earth is long past saving (61%, a 5% increase from last year) and that they’ll never be financially secure or confident again (47%, an 8% increase from last year).

Those negative feelings were somewhat offset by a decline in pandemic-related problems, with declines in the numbers of people who believe that the fear of being around others is going to last long after the pandemic, and that mental health is the worst it has ever been because of the pandemic.

But the study also noted that brands “are in crisis,” with 82% of Canadians indicating that brands are either unsure or don’t believe they have a clear understanding of the concerns, issues or problems facing Canadians, a slight increase from 76% in the first study.

“Most Canadians believe brands cannot help them solve their problems simply because they don’t listen and understand them,” said Leo Burnett’s chief strategy officer, Tahir Ahmad. “This lack of understanding is evident in the gap between what people expect and how brands perform across all major industries. With the right data, commitment, and authenticity, brands can turn the tide and make a positive impact on the lives of Canadians as they navigate the post-COVID era.”

While concerns around the climate seemed to abate slightly during the worst of the pandemic, they are once again fully on view—with nearly half of Canadians (49%) indicating that they are afraid parts of the world will be uninhabitable in the next 10-15 years, and 53% indicating that they believe their children will be forced to live in an inhospitable world after their death.

And while many Canadians believe that individuals must do their part, 60% said companies aren’t doing enough to reduce their carbon footprint, while 56% believe that despite attempts from brands to preserve the environment, there is still too little being done to change course.

However, there are opportunities for brands to curry favour by holding themselves publicly accountable. “The win here isn’t being perfect,” the study concluded. “It’s showing progress and making a commitment to keep trying across the entire supply chain.”

The study concludes by saying that the findings represent “tremendous opportunity” for brands. “With a greater understanding of what’s on the minds of Canadians and the barriers in their lives, brands can help to alleviate people’s problems and, in doing so, increase brand trust, intimacy and, ultimately, growth,” it said.

Chris Powell