The pragmatic, low-key British are the least likely to recognize the importance of inspiration, and tend to experience inspiration less frequently that other countries. However, the desire and hope for more inspiration is still strong. They would like to see more inspiration in their lives, particularly from world leaders but also brands and companies. When the British do experience inspiration, it is sparked by Magnetic triggers that stimulate their imaginations, like galleries and architecture, and Elevating triggers that make people’s lives better, such as community heroes and stories of kindness. Both COVID-19 and the climate crisis are currently influencing their inspiration preferences.

Buttoned-up Brits

Of the four nations surveyed, the British are the least likely to acknowledge the importance of inspiration, and experience it less frequently than other nations. Nearly one in 10 reports their most recent bout of inspiration happening over a year ago; compare this to Brazil, where 27% report having been inspired that day. Still, more than two out of three Brits say they’ve been inspired within the past month, and two out of three deem it important if not “vital” to their lives.

The Importanceof Inspiration ALL 07 07

They are also the least likely to report physiological responses to inspiration - few will admit to anything more than a smile. The most common emotional reaction was “motivated,” followed by “happy” and “hopeful,” all of which show lower representation than any other country. However, this somewhat muted response may be due to a more buttoned-up approach to expressing their attitudes generally, as (like other markets) they also say they would in fact like more inspiration in their lives - even rating its importance equal to sleep.

Nearly eight out of 10 say they hope they will feel more inspired in the future, and more than half want more from brands and companies. Breaking through to this market are Magnetic triggers that “stimulate their imaginations.” The United Kingdom cites museums/galleries and architecture as sources of inspiration more than any other country.

Tate Modern - the art is amazing, but the actual building is so clever and understated and so impactful. You know you’re going to be stimulated, you know you’re going to be inspired.

UK respondent, female, Gen X, Nurturer segment

Caring for People and Planet

While the British tend to take a middle-of-the-road stance on many issues, they are developing a sense of urgency around the environmental crisis, driven by accelerating media coverage, and also awareness sparked by high-profile activism from young people like Greta Thunberg and campaigning groups such as Extinction Rebellion. They rank it the number one cause society should address, while also exhibiting an affinity for nature, with “being outdoors” and “animal/wildlife” ranking in their top five overall inspiration sources. This is underpinned by a socially conscious, national value system that deems benevolence (caring for others) and universalism (appreciation for all walks of life including nature) of the utmost importance.

I am inspired by dedicated, community volunteers who try to make people’s lives better - David Attenborough is a wildlife and environmental legend.

British respondent, male, boomer+, Advocate segment

Concern for people and planet plays itself out in other inspiration preferences. Brits are more likely than the global average to respond to Elevating triggers that make people’s lives better, such as stories of kindness and selflessness. Reflecting their national tendency to pride themselves on their community spirit and “looking out for others,” the British are also inspired by their circle of friends and family. What’s more, when enjoying experiences they find inspiring (such as “being surrounded by beautiful things,” “doing something for the first time” and traveling - a national obsession), they are more likely to prefer doing them with others. Whatever their passion, it’s worth noting that one of the top three outcomes of inspiration for the nation is vowing to live a simpler life which is better for all.

In Focus UK Pillars

COVID Impact

When you look at the areas of their lives where the British wish they experienced more inspiration, it’s striking that more than eight out of 10 point to world leaders. This may reflect some years of political turmoil, characterized by questionable leadership around Brexit and COVID-19 by the current prime minister, Boris Johnson, who, while colorful, is highly polarizing. Still, the Queen is cited as a strong source of inspiration.

The public figures they admire tend to be those who set out to make a difference to others. Doctors and scientists rank fourth in terms of most inspiring people, while caregivers/healthcare workers rank eighth, just above community heroes - the enormous national affection for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) came to the fore very strongly as the service responded heroically to COVID-19.

I am inspired by the scientists who came up with the vaccine for COVID.

UK respondent, female, gen X, Nurturer segment

As with all the markets we surveyed, COVID factored heavily into recent life events. Interestingly, Brits were most likely to have cared for someone severely ill and lost a loved one. It’s not surprising that they are also most likely to report feeling “robbed of things they will never have again” due to COVID. This is felt more strongly among women, who are considered to have carried more of the burden of looking after family members during the pandemic. Still, more than half say COVID has made them feel grateful for what they have - only the Brazilians feel this more strongly.

Recent Life Events
I am inspired by my family. During this pandemic I lost my husband and I’m very thankful they are there for me.

UK respondent, female, boomer+, Nurturer segment

Key Takeaways

  • The British are the least likely to rate the importance of inspiration due to a more buttoned-up approach to expressing their attitudes generally, but they would still like more inspiration in their lives, including from companies and brands.
  • Brits are more likely than the global average to respond to Elevating triggers that make people’s lives better, underpinned by universalist values that manifest concern not only for people but also planet.
  • COVID-19 weighs heavily on British inspiration preferences, with women showing greater impact of the pandemic on their lives.

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