Global strategic insight consultancy collective The Akin, in partnership with research agency Opinium, has launched the 2020 Changemaker Trends Report. Based on extensive explorative research with 2,030 Changemakers across ten global markets, the report sets out what the world’s most influential consumers – known as Changemakers – are doing and feeling and what this means for technology, marketing, product development, retail, big data and trust across the next 18-24 months.

Changemakers are the consumers demanding change from brands and organisations. Also known as early adopters, if a brand gains advocacy with this group, the mass market swiftly follows. Understanding them is therefore crucial for any brand, business or institution wanting to engage with them.

This year’s report reveals that Changemakers are attracted to brands (across beauty, fashion, finance, food and drink, entertainment and media, health and wellness, technology, travel and hospitality) that are thoughtful and optimistic.

In terms of how Changemakers interact and engage with brands, the survey shows that their view of the world is more complicated than the mass market, as are their influences. They are less tolerant of unhappiness and more likely to adopt new behaviours, they have a more complex relationship with technology, and they shop differently from the general public:

  • 64% of Changemakers would rather buy a brand to show their support for something
  • 86% of Changemakers have unsubscribed from a brand recently
  • 67% of Changemakers believe brands dilute their messages
  • 73% of Changemakers think brands rely on influencers too much
  • 73% of Changemakers will switch brands due to their lack of direction
  • 66% of Changemakers think brands all look and sound like each other
  • 80% of Changemakers will switch brands due to their long term strategy.

“There is a clear need for brands to step up and take a longer term view of everything they do,” commented Sarah Johnson, co-founder of The Akin. “Changemakers are the first to adopt new technologies, but they are also be the first to reject them. What the 2020 Changemaker Report has demonstrated is that, after the terrible “10s”, we all want some form of autonomy, whether that is moments of release or peace, or the ability to make a change.”

This year’s report also reveals four macro themes. Underpinning each of the macro themes are a number of key drivers, including technological advancement; a crisis of information, data generation and consumption; the climate emergency; economic uncertainty; and disruptive geopolitics, all of which create the environment that these trends live in. The four themes are:

The need to move beyond sustainability towards regeneration – with a shift from human-centred approaches to planet-centred design and thinking. 82% of Changemakers agree that the world should be aiming for regeneration, not just sustaining.

Moving towards a balance of privacy and customisation, where personal data is no longer exchanged with no questions asked in return for convenient technological solutions. 80% of Changemakers would like algorithms to be more customisable.

Using rebellious thinking to challenge the status quo and the application of quantum thinking to change the increasingly limited and outdated mindsets produced by a rapidly changing world. 83% of Changemakers believe a system shakeup is crucial for our future.

A desire to tackle and heal divisions to find the common good, a levelling of the playing field for all and shifting systems from exclusive to inclusive. 79% of Changemakers think of themselves as citizens over consumers.

“One thing is certain: nothing is certain,” Johnson added. “This year’s report demonstrates that it is time to make some hard decisions and really begin mapping out new needs and possible futures.

“With the perspective of the ‘10’s, we can now see the harm of speeding up cycles. The start of this new decade is a critical inflexion point. Changemakers are the most positive about the future, and this optimism should be harnessed by brands, organisations and C-suites to develop longer term strategies, products and services.”

The Changemaker Report 2020 can be downloaded for free from or by emailing [email protected].

You can also watch a presentation of the report’s findings – discussing the trends currently shaping our futures and the attitudes and behaviours of the people driving change – by co-founder Sarah Johnson here.