Facebook IQ is the insights unit established by the world’s largest social network, aimed at helping marketers better understand people; how people are communicating today, both online and off. Facebook IQ recently released their report “The 2021 Topics and Trends Report” to identify and explore the latest global trends that can shape 2021. Learning from the billions of people and the millions of businesses on its platforms, Facebook IQ provides insights into behaviors both on and off the platforms across generations, markets, devices, and time. Facebook IQ’s original research and interactive tools help marketers find insights to inspire and be informed about their campaigns.
The 2021 Topics and Trends Report from Facebook IQ analyze four regions—Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and North America—and eight countries within them, exploring how COVID-19 is affecting individuals and communities. In this year’s report, topics from Instagram have also been added for the first time to broaden the range of insights.
A NEW DIMENSION IN LEARNING
Learning is changing as people seek out information in new formats and venues, from the screen to the street. Racism has always been widely prevalent in the United States. Many Americans are now leveraging their voices, votes, and wallets to support the Black Lives Matter movement. People are not only taking their stands on social media by educating their followers but also are protesting on the streets. Protests demanding racial equity have grown in over 2,000 cities and towns in all 50 states. Nearly $50M has been raised on Facebook and Instagram between late May and July 2020 through people’s donations to racial justice causes. Americans have also embraced Juneteenth this year – a holiday celebrating the liberation of the last enslaved Americans. All in all, awareness has now become action in the United States.
In Australia, people are finding joy in reading, now more than ever before. According to research, almost 72% of all Australians read for pleasure in the year 2019. People are embracing literature as a sense of escape through vivid landscapes, company in the form of fictional characters, and community through book groups online. There has been a rise in online book groups because people are constantly seeking out places to share ideas and interests. Non-fiction books are also helping Australians to learn about the world around them. In 2020, people are showing high interest in reading books that are based on race and representation. Besides, small bookstores and libraries have come forward and have taken an active community role in this regard.
While the pandemic has caused most of the world’s education system to adapt to remote learning, awareness has been rising around the benefits of distance learning as a way to bring the classroom to students living in Brazil’s remote areas. E-books, streaming videos, chat rooms, and other multimedia resources are contributing to distance learning, and some educators are even podcasting to distribute the Q&A sections of their lectures. As corporate educators are looking to connect with Gen Z workers, microlearning (the use of small bites of digital content) is taking off.
As a result of spending more time at home, people around the world are now reconsidering where they live and how they get around, which is causing a major shift in their lifestyles. For instance, in the United Kingdom, an estimated 42% of Britons have taken up gardening to blow off steam and enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. The ones who are new to gardening are consulting how-to books and online resources to get help. Searches for “how to grow an avocado,” increased by 100 times between mid-April 2019 and 2020. This new fervor for agriculture in the UK is building a green-thumbed foundation for sustainable living.
In the United States, people have worked to present polished versions of themselves for ages. However, during the pandemic, Americans are prioritizing authenticity over appearance, even if that means being vulnerable. Instead of stepping outside the home for personal grooming and pampering, people are learning to do their own upkeep. Cycling shorts have become the uniform of the year in the United States which tells us that people are now focusing on comfort and versatility. This more authentic presentation of oneself is contributing towards better communication with other people and instilling self-compassion as well as empathy for others.
In recent years, home renovations have been on the rise in Canada. As Canadians integrate work, school, and vacations into their living spaces, they are increasingly undertaking DIY fix-ups to their homes to act as offices, classrooms, gyms, and playgrounds. In July 2020, household item spending increased 20% year-over-year, with spending rising dramatically at DIY construction stores. Canadians are even installing raised beds for gardening and adding lawn furniture. This trend shows that people now want more spaces in their homes to tailor them to their needs.
THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY
Technologies that some places take for granted are growing in new regions, and they’re gaining new life as people adapt them to local markets. In the year 2020, 30 million rural residents of India gained internet access. Currently, connectivity in India is at an all-time high. However, almost half the country’s population is still offline, and many of those people are looking to get online. The rise in e-commerce, digital television, and educational technologies have intensified the need for broadband access—and for stronger bandwidth among those who are already connected. One student in India even made headlines for studying on her roof to attain a strong connection.
While cash has long been the payment method of choice in Mexico, digital banking is now picking up steam. The use of neo banks—digital banks that have no physical branches— are on the rise in Mexico as both customers seek out safer digital-first shopping options and businesses responding to the need. One study predicts two-thirds of Mexicans will reduce their cash use in the future. Since Amazon entered the Australian market in 2017, interest in e-commerce has grown significantly. Between March and April 2020, e-commerce spending in Australia increased 29% month over month. Subscription boxes, which supply people with new selections of drinks and snacks, beauty products, and vitamins each month are now high in demand. Australians are quickly forging a hybrid shopping experience that fits their needs both online and offline.
In Brazil, digital art was already taking off even before the pandemic, and now the new normal has accelerated people’s interest in digital art. Digital works and QR codes are powering the screens at a drive-through museum in São Paulo, and digital galleries are helping artists demonstrate their work while gallery spaces are closed. In the United Kingdom, people are opting for fun handicraft items instead of jumping on to fashion trend cycles. Not only are consumers investing their time in crafting items themselves, but high-fashion outlets are also publishing tie-dye tutorials to stay relevant. This more personalized, Earth-friendly dynamic is contributing to sustainable fashion as well as helping people build personal connections to the things they wear.
The pandemic has led the Germans to find new utility in their vehicles. People are trading public transits for cycling causing an unprecedented level of demand at the bicycle shops. Cars are becoming entertainment venues because of drive-in films, raves, and even activities as wild as zoo safaris. Domestic travel by automobile has increased as people are hesitant to travel by air. People are hitting the road in their vehicles, renting cars for day trips, and some are hitting the road in camper vans. For Germans, this adventure and autonomy on wheels may be here to stay.
ABOUT THE REPORT
The pandemic has accelerated major trends in people’s day-to-day lives and while the pandemic will eventually pass, many of these trends may prove to be fundamental shifts as people discover new and more authentic ways of being. For the 2021 edition of their report, Facebook IQ has captured some of the major changes in people’s lives during the pandemic. The report covers eight markets across four regions: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, UK, and the US. The analysis of this report covers trends across five categories: Education and Action, Lifestyle, Technology, and Leisure. The report has been summarized along with the key highlights from it.
Report Summarized by Musarrat Sarwar Chowdhury