Global Issues Barometer

Invasion of Ukraine remains the #1 concern of people worldwide followed by cost-of-living crisis
13 June 2022
In the week following the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and as the OECD updates its 2023 GDP forecasts, Kantar, the world’s leading marketing data and analytics company has found the invasion of Ukraine remains the #1 concern of people worldwide followed by economic worries and the cost-of-living crisis. Asked to spontaneously share their concerns, 64% of people, globally, mentioned the war, followed by 39% mentioning economic issues. Covid-19 is no longer seen as a pressing issue, except in China where lockdowns are just lifting, but climate and environmental issues have emerged as a top 3 concern for a quarter of the world’s population and one where they feel the need for action.

Kantar’s Global Issues Barometer study is a detailed analysis of 11,000 people's attitudes in 19 countries (representing 68% of global GDP) as they strive to adapt to the tempest of global events. The study asked open-ended questions to understand peoples’ real opinions and used Kantar’s TextAI technology to understand and analyse the responses.

The war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine is currently the biggest concern in every geographic region surveyed. As would be expected, a high correlation exists between concern and proximity. 94% of Poles independently mentioned the war as a concern, followed by 80%+ of the Spanish, Germans and French. At the other end of the scale, one in three of India’s (37%) and the Philippines’ (31%) citizens expressed concern. South Korea is a notable exception, where 73% identified the war as a concern. In addition to the volume of concern, the intensity of concern is very high with 63% of those raising the issue rating their anxiety level at 8/10 or higher.  


The cost-of-living crisis
The cost-of-living crisis is #2 on people’s minds overall, having already affected the standards of living of 51% of people worldwide. Price increases in food & drink, fuel and household bills have been noticed the most. Poland, Spain, Germany, Brasil and African countries perceive food bills to have increased the most, while the Poland, Spain and UK feel household bills are rising most. 

While 45% of the population report their household financial situation is deteriorating, 65% believe the general economic outlook of their country is negative right now. People are struggling to meet their living costs, with 44% of households worldwide experiencing difficulties meeting their monthly outgoings and 8% unable to meet their commitments. Five percent of households cannot afford their food basics, 11% cannot afford their household bills and one in five cannot afford their car’s fuel bill. The problem looks set to continue. Three quarters (77%) of global respondents do not expect a pay rise that will match inflation, while a further 73% of people believe inflation will continue to rise even further. 


Climate inaction is already causing remarkably high levels of distress with more than half of people globally experiencing eco-anxiety. Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines and India are the most worried countries about climate change. Two-thirds of the population believe businesses have a responsibility to solve the climate crisis, while 79% of consumers want to buy environmentally sustainable products but need brands to do more work on affordability.

Discussing the findings, Sarah King, Global Head of Brand at Kantar observed “The current global tempest of global events is affecting long-term plans as well as short-term behaviour. Beyond making cutbacks on general expenditure, people are downgrading on products they buy and are starting to change behaviours, for example, driving less. Luxury goods, eating out and holidays look likely to be the sectors to suffer next. Almost half of households (46%) are considering retrenching on home improvement and subscriptions to entertainment subscriptions (44%), two industries that did well during the pandemic. Longer-term, more than two third of people says the current turmoil is impacting their big life plans; saving for big future life events (42%), children's education (20% globally and 30% in developing economies) and moving home (19%). So the impact of this crisis lies in the future as well as in the present. We also see mental wellbeing challenges re-emerging with a third of people reporting negative impacts on their mental health and more than 60% feeling very worried.” 

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