Contrary to what marketers might think, most consumers like how they look and feel positive about their bodies, according to a new report from Havas Worldwide.
And globally, there’s a prevailing attitude of “beauty fatigue”— the pushback against artificial, imposed standards of beauty.
“I think with beauty fatigue, [consumers] are tired of seeing all these glossy people,” said Helen Pak, chief creative officer at Havas Worldwide Canada. “And since we accept who we are, we want to also see images of people who are like us in the media and represented by brands.”
Havas Worldwide’s iBody: The New Frontier report is based on a survey of more than 10,000 people in 28 countries including Canada, the U.S., the United Kingdom, China and Brazil. The survey sample was made up of 20% “prosumers,” or leading-edge influencers, and 80% mainstream consumers.
Globally, only one in 10 respondents indicated their body is a source of embarrassment, disappointment or shame. The top picks were universally positive: happiness, pleasure, pride and power.
Among Canadian respondents, 76% said it worries them that outer beauty is more highly valued than “what’s in our hearts and minds;” 72% agreed the world would be a happier place if people weren’t so obsessed with physical beauty; and 71% agreed that as a society, we have lost sight of what true beauty is.
In addition, 71% of Canadians agreed that Photoshopping models and celebrities to make them thinner or more physically “perfect” is harming society.
Pak said with campaigns such as Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” and Always’ “Like a Girl,” advertisers are coming out with more affirmative messages. “So I think the acceptance of how we look has become increasingly more positive,” she said.
The report also found as people grow weary of society’s obsession with youth and largely unattainable beauty ideals, they are becoming more fixated on fitness and health. Only 17% of the global sample claim to never exercise. Those who do are more concerned about how exercise makes them feel than how it affects their outward appearance.
Among Canadian respondents, 47.5% said they exercise to get in shape/be physically fit; 44.5% said exercise to fell good/reduce stress; and 40% exercise to be stronger. Only 23% said they exercise to be more attractive.
According to Havas, getting back to a simpler, more natural lifestyle is a huge motivator for people these days. Consumers are more focused on healthy eating and getting a good night’s sleep than they are about restrictive dieting and going to the gym. In Canada, 70.5% of “prosumers” and 49% of mainstream consumers said they’re eating more healthfully compared to a couple years ago. Only 18% of both groups said they are dieting to lose weight.
People are also more open to incorporating technology into their health routines. Close to 26% of Canadian respondents use at least one digital app to monitor their physical health and nearly 52% said digital devices that monitor every aspect of one’s physical health would be “good” for society.
“Like with so many areas, when brands are able to partner with consumers and give them tools and motivate them, there’s a real opportunity there,” said Pak. “So it’s not just about selling you products, but how can the brand help you and help enhance your life. So that is a particularly abundant area of opportunity for marketers.”