31 October 2016

IKEA/Economist Group (EIU) study focuses on the new ‘American Dream’ today

Be the first to share

Press release – September 21, 2016

Discovering the New American Dream, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report sponsored by IKEA US shows that the American Dream, which was once outlined by owning a home with a ‘white picket fence,’ having a comfortable amount of money, and ‘keeping up with the Joneses,’ is now transitioning into ‘living life on one’s own terms.’ The new dream is defined by quality of life experiences; 57% of Americans say the dream is more about quality of life, as opposed to 20% citing material possessions. More than half (57%) cited spending time with family and friends as the way they are currently living the American Dream.

The EIU report also shows that Americans continue to believe in the value of hard work to achieve success, but the measurement of this success is now based on one’s personal goals, not necessarily those set by society.

  • 65% believe ‘the American Dream’ is more personal today, less about society’s goals
  • 76% believe the expression of the American Dream is as diverse as the people in America
  • 72% of Americans believe they are in some way living the American dream today, while 76% think the dream is a journey and not an end goal

Alex, a 28-year-old woman who lives on a farm co-op in Madison, Wisconsin, embodies this new view of living on one’s own. “Having the freedom to do what I want, take on projects that I want, and to make a difference is really important to me. I can’t be happy in a job that doesn’t allow me to do these things—regardless of the pay check. I live in a co-op because I need that human connection and sense of collaboration,” Alex said. “My favorite parts of any day are spontaneous adventures with the people I love.”

It’s not just what defines the American Dream that is marking this transformation, but rather what people are striving for overall. With regard to the pervasive challenges to success, the EIU study cites:

  • The recession of 2008 changed people’s expectations of the ‘American Dream’ according to seven in ten Americans. This is felt more strongly in the middle income bracket ($50,000–$75,000), where 74% believe this, compared with 63% of those in the lowest income bracket and 70% of those in the highest.
  • The majority of Americans also agree that “the cost of living today makes it harder to see how one can achieve the American Dream” (78%) and that “college is no longer a guarantee to living the American Dream” (72%).
  • Some Americans have fears about “being able to retire comfortably” with fewer than half (42%) believing it’s possible. Those in the lowest income bracket see it as even less achievable (32%).

“It’s confirming to know that the new American Dream is about ‘living life on your own terms,’ because we have always embraced this mindset. We believe all homes are created equal, and we are committed to the many people by producing well-designed, quality, functional and affordable home furnishings that accommodate their diverse lifestyles and wallets. Everyone deserves a home that they love, that is sustainable, looks good and works well – and where they can live happily with family and friends. We understand cost of living hikes and that college tuition is sky high, but no matter what the dream, we want to help our customers achieve it,” stated Lars Petersson, IKEA US president.

“The American Dream can seem very diverse, and today the dream and definitions of success takes many forms, but at the core there is a similarity: to be happy. The means of acquiring the American Dream is the biggest change. For example, more than 70% no longer see college as a guarantee to the American Dream, so we see people are developing new workarounds and goals,” commented Rebecca Lipman, editor of the Discovering the New American Dream EIU report.

On the upside, 77% believe technology has opened new doors for people to achieve their American Dream. A little over half (53%) believe the sharing economy will open up more opportunities for Americans to reach financial prosperity.

These foundational elements of the America Dream today are shared to varying degrees across income levels, generations, political affiliations, and genders. Looking ahead, a majority (62%) of Americans believe being treated equally regardless of one’s background and the freedom to live as they choose will define the American dream for future generations. As time has passed, generations have shaped the American Dream based on the current state of the country, but at its core, it has remained steadfast in the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ What defines happiness is what has truly changed.

This report captures the perspectives of Americans of all different backgrounds to explain what the age-old term, American Dream, means to today’s society and how it will continue to evolve. It is based on a survey of 2,050 individuals from all regions of the country of varying ages, ethnicities and incomes, providing a balanced representation of the U.S. as a whole.

> A New York Times article published on October 30 describes how IKEA US implemented these insights in offerings, positioning and advertising.

Be the first to share
19 June 2018
The UK Government’s Data Ethics Framework
The UK Government's Data Ethics Framework guides the design of appropriate data use in government and the wider public sector. This guidance is aimed at anyone working directly or indirectly with data in the public …
9 June 2018
[Book] Radical Help – by Hilary Cottam
Radical Help - How we can remake the relationships between us and revolutionise the welfare state By Hilary Cottam Virago Publishing June 2018, 320 pages > Book talk at the RSA How should we live: how should we care for …
11 May 2018
A design lab is making rituals for secular people
At the Ritual Design Lab in Silicon Valley, a small team of “interaction designers” is working to generate new rituals for modern life, with an eye to user experience. Created by Kursat Ozenc and Margaret …
7 May 2018
Human-centered building design
Putting people at the centre when designing and delivering buildings of the future is crucial to unlocking the potential of new technologies, according to the third installment of Buildings of the Future paper (pdf) released …
4 May 2018
[Book] Automating Inequality
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor By Virginia Eubanks St. Martin's Press, January 2018 272 pages The State of Indiana denies one million applications for healthcare, foodstamps and cash benefits in three years—because a …
2 May 2018
[Book] Ethnographic Thinking
Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset by Jay Hasbrouck Routledge Press, December 2017 140 pages This book argues that ‘ethnographic thinking’―the thought processes and patterns ethnographers develop through their practice―offers companies and organizations the cultural insights they need to …
27 April 2018
The case for hiring a ‘Digital Anthropologist’
James Ingram, chief executive officer of visual content creation company Splashlight, explains why we need digital anthropologists to handle handle, interpret and apply cultural analysis to data and arrive at consumer insight. Making sense of copious …
25 April 2018
Two reports on people’s attitudes and understanding of digital technologies
Doteveryone, a UK think tank that champions responsible technology for the good of everyone in society [similar to Milan's newly founded Digital Culture Center], published two reports this year: the first one, The Digital Attitudes …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

13 June 2018
Invito: DesAlps design thinking workshop per la tua startup

Hai una startup? Hai mai pensato ai benefici che potrebbe trarre dal Design Thinking? Questa è l’opportunità per scoprirlo! DesAlps Workshop #2: Il Design Thinking per la tua startup! Giovedì 28 giugno 2018 – dalle 9:30 alle 17:00 @ I3P | Corso Castelfidardo 30/a, Torino —– Nell’ambito del progetto europeo DesAlps, un team di esperti […]

3 May 2018
Invito: DesAlps innovation workshop per le PMI del territorio piemontese

Experientia è lieta di invitare le piccole e medie imprese del territorio piemontese al: DesAlps Workshop #1: Il Design Thinking per le PMI Venerdì 18 maggio 2018 – dalle 9.00 alle 17.30 @ Rinascimenti Sociali | via Maria Vittoria 38, Torino Scopri i vantaggi che il Design Thinking può portare al tuo business per prepararvi […]

27 April 2018
Impact through Design – Event in Turin, Italy

(Scroll down for English) Come può il design generare impatto? In continuità con il summit International Days of Deans and Experts: Impact Through Design (Barcellona, aprile 2018) Torino ospita il primo evento dedicato alla prospettiva italiana sull’impatto generato attraverso il design in riferimento ai Sustainable Development Goals definiti dalle Nazioni Unite. Attori dell’ecosistema territoriale ed […]

26 February 2018
Designing Patient Solutions with Meaning: Review of technology and health apps for a better patient experience

Technology is radically changing the world of healthcare and acts at different levels in support of different stakeholders. There are several digital tools on the market (e.g. wearables, virtual reality, robotics, etc.), many of which work in integration with each other, for example, wearables connected to IOT applications. Experientia’s report provide an overview of some […]

22 December 2017
Happy new year 2018!
30 November 2017
New European study on e-Government initiatives

The latest eGovernment benchmark report of the European Commission shows significant improvement on cross-border availability of digital public services and accessibility of public websites from mobile devices in EU Member states. The study also indicates a need for improvement in transparency of public services delivery and use of supporting technology like eIDs or eDocuments. Performance […]

See all articles