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
24 February 2018
[Paper] The Intuitive Appeal of Explainable Machines
The Intuitive Appeal of Explainable Machines by Andrew D. Selbst (Data & Society Research Institute; Yale Information Society Project) and Solon Barocas (Cornell University) February 19, 2018, 59 pages Abstract As algorithmic decision-making has become synonymous with inexplicable decision-making, …
3 February 2018
Anthropology in Industry w/ Natalie Hanson
Design and anthropology have been seen together with increasing frequency over the last few years, but how do design and anthropology fit together in relation to industry? And, how does this pairing create insight? The …
30 January 2018
Designing better elderly healthcare with with Singapore’s public services
Many public services, from welfare to healthcare, are mainly intended for the elderly. One of the challenges of designing digital services is to create simple and effective public services for older users. Designers Italia, the …
27 January 2018
How patient stories can improve intensive care
The hospital intensive care unit (ICU) has traditionally been a closed environment, where patient, nurse, doctor and family stories are lost. Christiane Job McIntosh, Sean Bagshaw and Tom Stelfox are Canadian researchers in intensive care. They …
27 January 2018
[Book] The Age of Surge
The Age of Surge: A Human Centered Framework for Scaling Company Wide Agility and Navigating the Tsunami of Digital By Brad Murphy and Carol Mase Reinvent Press January 2018, 272 pages > Q&A on the book The global forces of …
27 January 2018
[Book] The Human Workplace: People-Centred Organizational Development
The Human Workplace: People-Centred Organizational Development By Andy Swann Kogan Page Publishing October 2017, 232 pages Companies spend time and effort developing their employees - their most important asset - but they often forget to consider the company structure, …
25 January 2018
[Study] Rethinking The Smart City – Democratizing Urban Technology
Rethinking The Smart City - Democratizing Urban Technology By Evgeny Morozov and Francesca Bria Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York Office January 2018 Download pdf: English version - German version Following the celebration of the “creative city” (as described …
18 January 2018
[Book] Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere
Driverless Cars: On A Road to Nowhere Christian Wolmar London Publishing Partnership Jan 2018, 136 pages Driverless cars are the future. That is what the tech giants, the auto industry and even the government want us to think. Almost …

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.

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 […]

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

See all articles