The Rise Of The Individual

The rising influence of individuals is transforming economies and societies. The demands of personalization and shifting corporate expectations have put exceptional pressure on companies to adapt, leaving many of them vulnerable to disruption by new technologies and business models. The increasing strength of individuals’ digital voices has empowered the masses to seek change and demand more from those who serve them, but these digital tools are double-edged, and society is currently confronting the damage being done in what many call the “war on truth.” 

How must we respond to thrive in this new environment?

The rise of the individual - FACTS
  • On the personalization side of health care, the cost of genome sequencing has come down from $10 million in 2007 to less than $1,000 in 2015.
  • According to the Gig Economy Index™, nearly 40% of U.S. workers now generate at least 40% of their income from the gig economy – a labor market consisting of short-term contracts, tasks and freelance work. 
  • Over 50% of respondents believe the looming threat of automation engenders distrust toward their employers.

COVID-19's impact on individuals

COVID item

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the underlying trends “hear me” and “optimize me,” bringing about faster adoption of new forms of communication and tailored solutions. Large portions of the population in developed economies have been able to remain connected during the lockdown thanks to high-speed internet and various digital tools that have helped maintain a resemblance of past social, work and shopping routines. The coronavirus has also prompted the development of several contact-tracing applications designed to find and alert the contacts of people infected with the coronavirus, helping to slow future spread by optimizing an otherwise human-intensive process that could leave many people in the dark about risks from their day-to-day interactions with the general public. COVID-19 has also caused time on social media to spike. A study of 25,000 consumers across 30 markets showed engagement increased 61% over normal usage rates. Messaging across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp increased by 50% in countries hit hardest by the virus. Social media companies have risen to the occasion and begun taking a more active role in removing or flagging misinformation about the virus.

The coronavirus has greatly impacted gig-economy workers – particularly those in travel and leisure, transportation, and entertainment.

Restrictions on travel and social gatherings have sidelined many workers who had benefited from more democratized business models.For the first time, unemployment benefits for gig and other self-employed workers were included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act in March.

COVID-19 has drawn additional attention on the shifting role and expectations of corporations. In this spring’s Edelman Trust Barometer, only a little more than one-third of 13,000 individuals surveyed said that businesses are doing well or very well in putting people ahead of profits, in helping their smaller suppliers and business customers stay afloat by extending them credit, or in protecting the jobs of their employees. Companies that place the health and well-being of their people first, outwardly collaborate to fight the pandemic, and demonstrate more public leadership are being viewed as more trustworthy during this crisis.

COVID-19’s long-term impact on the rise of the individual may come in how people “optimize,” “hear,” “pay” and “value” one another as economies restart and businesses rebuild.

Endnotes & Acknowledgements

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Many 3M colleagues supported this effort by generously sharing their time, knowledge and resources. We would like to recognize the authors from our Strategy & Marketing Development group who made this publication possible by exploring and synthesizing collective knowledge to provide these updated megatrends. Please learn more about our authors and research on our Endnotes & Acknowledgements page.

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