Some interesting and unfamiliar New Year’s resolutions made the headlines in January. Many consumers are taking the focus off themselves by making goals for their pets or the planet, while others are being kind to themselves or performing daily acts of joy.
The resolution mindset is always changing. People are increasingly aware of the pressures they’re facing, with many choosing to cut themselves some slack and chase progress over perfection.
We’ve asked consumers about their New Year’s resolutions since 2020, and with good reason. Mapping out people’s goals over time offers insight into how their priorities have changed, and how they might think and act in the coming year.
So, what are the top trends to know in 2023?
1. Resolution making is on the rise
Though resolution making took a bit of a dip in 2021 in the US and UK, it’s climbing back up again. And across 9 markets, we’ve seen a significant rise in the number planning to take part in 2023.
Over two thirds of consumers say they’re making resolutions this coming year.
More importantly, there’s been a 22% rise in people saying they don’t usually make resolutions but will in 2023, and a 45% drop in those saying they never make them.
Even though people poke fun at resolutions – the January 1st gym memes being a classic example – brands should still take notice. They’re clearly an important tradition or source of inspiration for lots of consumers.
2. 2022 was (mostly) a good year for goals
Research by Duoingo shows many Brits give up on their resolutions in January, but here’s the lowdown on how people did across 2022. Spoiler: it’s a mixed bag.
Nearly 9 in 10 achieved their resolutions to varying degrees. 23% achieved all or a good amount, while 65% achieved some or very few. Our data also highlights which resolutions consumers need additional support with.
In 2022, consumers were most likely to achieve resolutions like watching less TV, eating fewer animal products, volunteering, and drinking less alcohol.
By comparison, losing weight and starting a new job or career didn’t fare so well. The least successful resolution? Saving more money.
Some of these goals reflect a more general push toward adopting healthier habits. Since Q3 2021, the number of consumers drinking alcohol more than once a week declined in nearly 60% of our tracked markets, with the biggest drops seen in Denmark (-18%), Turkey (-18%), Greece (-15%), and Romania (-12%). It’s a similar story for eating fewer animal products; consumers are increasingly keen to make good swaps, so these kinds of resolutions are often more of a reminder to kick a bad habit than a big lifestyle change.
It’s goals like losing weight, doing more physical activity, starting a new job, or saving money that require more effort. The fact saving money was a struggle may not come as much of a surprise given the rollercoaster of a year that was 2022. The figures are striking – the number of consumers who say their personal finances will worsen in the next six months has grown in nearly 80% of our tracked markets over the last year, more than doubling in 10 European markets.
Various health-focused food and drink brands take advantage of the buzz surrounding New Year’s resolutions, and finance companies should also be highlighting their saving tools at a time when optimism is at its highest. To keep them on board, the focus should be on helping consumers make goals that are realistic and attainable.
3. Priorities are conflicting in 2023
If you want a sign of how hard consumer behavior is to predict right now, look no further than the New Year’s resolutions growing most since last year. Traveling more (+16%) and saving money (+16%) are the biggest trends, a tricky balancing act if ever there was one.
This is part of a revenge travel trend we’ve been keeping an eye on in the post-pandemic world. Expedia labeled 2022 the year of the GOAT, which stands for greatest of all trips, and this trend looks set to continue in 2023. Travel providers should seek to put once-in-a-lifetime experiences in the spotlight.
In Italy, traveling more this year is an even greater priority than saving money. Italy had some of the toughest lockdown measures on the planet, and even after relaxing them, the country was still incredibly cautious about travel. Clearly a shift has taken place; consumers across markets are ready to get back outdoors, and Italy is one of various countries where we expect travel to rebound.
4. Mental health is holding its own, while work has slipped
Mental health has become more of a priority in recent years, and for 2023’s resolutions, it holds its standing. Across 2020-21, we saw a shift toward more self-focus, as consumers started putting their welfare front and center. And a “work less, live more” attitude has been catching on, with finding a new job or career falling down the resolution ladder.
Recently, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she no longer has “enough in the tank” to do her role justice, joining the likes of Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka – role models who feel comfortable saying enough is enough. And with the spring of tech layoffs weighing on people’s minds, many don’t want work to be as much of a priority anymore.
In 2023, employers that cater to workers’ demand for more flexibility in hours, and realize that “hours worked” isn’t always the best measure of productivity, stand a better chance of hiring and retaining top talent.
5. Gen Z are keener to make positive changes than others
On the whole, saving more money, eating more healthy food, and learning a new skill or hobby are the top New year’s resolutions for the coming year, a sign that consumers are more eager to start something than avoid it.
But as ever, each generation has preferences that tell us a lot about their current life status and wellbeing. As usual, the most interest comes from Gen Z and millennials, which in part is because they’re more likely to describe themselves as ambitious, career-focused, and concerned about their mental health.
They’re more invested in making resolutions, meaning campaigns that reference their goals, especially in a humorous or culturally relevant way, are likely to land well.
Gen Z have stepped into adult life, with starting a new job and finding love being the resolutions they stand out for making. They’ve missed out on various experiences during the pandemic, and sky-high house prices have made getting on the property ladder harder than ever; they’re therefore settling down later than generations before them.
Brands wanting to get their attention need to focus on the unique challenges they face when it comes to work and relationships.
Tracking yearly changes helps us get a sense of their moods too. Of the 17 resolutions we track, 15 have increased in popularity among Gen Z in the past year, compared to 11 among baby boomers, 10 among Gen X, and 9 among millennials.
Many Gen Zs have really felt stress in the last 12 months, especially those worried about falling behind, and they have an increasing number of goals they’re keen to make a reality.
More than any other generation, it’s important to make Gen Z feel empowered and demonstrate what digital finance and planning tools can do for them in language that resonates.
What should you look out for in 2023?
Where mental health and self-care stole the headlines back in 2020, this year is all about saving money and living life to the fullest. Consumers are clearly trying to balance these two desires, so brands need to offer them ways to experience new things on a budget.
As for employers, they need to understand that while work and careers are important, especially to Gen Z, it’s less of a priority for other employees. The key is balance – fitting work around their lifestyle in 2023.