Aspirational Consumers Are Rising. Are Brands Ready to Meet Them?

NEW YORK, 6 June 2016 – A new global study by BBMG and GlobeScan finds that the world’s Aspirational consumers are on the rise, yet half cannot name a single purposeful brand.
Representing 40 percent of the global public, Aspirationals are defined by their love of shopping, desire for responsible consumption, and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society. They are among the most likely to “support companies and brands that have a purpose of making a positive difference in society through their products, services, and operations,” yet only half can think of a single company as having a strong purpose in this way.
“Aspirational consumers are looking for brands to stand for something bigger than product benefits. They want brands to embody an inspiring ethos, to bring a strong point of view, and take action to make a positive impact in the world,” says Raphael Bemporad, founding partner at brand consultancy BBMG. “However, half of the world’s Aspirationals cannot name a single brand that reflects this deeper sense of purpose. This ‘brand purpose gap’ provides a major opportunity for brands to win by placing a higher purpose at the core of who they are and what they do.”
“Brands have good reason to place purpose at the center of their value proposition, as Aspirationals are notably more trusting of companies than others and more open to brands with a bold vision of the future,” added Eric Whan, Director at GlobeScan. “It’s a ripening opportunity, so long as brands align authentically with Aspirationals’ social and environmental values.”
The Aspirational segmentation explores the intersection of consumer needs, desires, and shopping behaviors with social and environmental beliefs, values, and priorities. The segmentation reveals a spectrum including highly committed Advocates (22% of consumers globally in 2016), style- and social status-seeking Aspirationals (40%), price- and performance-minded Practicals (29%), and the less engaged Indifferents (9%).
The new findings are based on an in-person and telephone survey of 21,000 consumers across 21 countries, conducted during the first quarter of 2016.

Aspirationals at a Glance: 2016 Research Highlights

  • Empowered Shoppers: More than eight in ten Aspirational consumers say “shopping for new things excites me” (84%), compared to 58 percent of all consumers, and “try to support companies and brands that have a purpose of making a positive difference in society through their products, services, and operation” (74%), compared with 65 percent of all consumers.
  • Trust in Brands: Nearly six in ten Aspirational consumers globally say they “trust global companies to act in the best interest of society” (58%), compared with 48 percent of all consumers.
  • Seek Style and Status: Three-fourths of Aspirational consumers say “I want to stand out by the way I look, my style” (78%), compared to 53 percent of all consumers.
  • Positive Influencers: Nearly nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies” (87%), compared to 63 percent of all consumers.
  • Responsible Consumers: Nearly nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I believe we need to consume less to preserve the environment for future generations” (88%), compared to 72 percent of all consumers, and that they are “willing to pay more for products produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way” (90%) compared to 65 percent of all consumers.
  • Young: Demographically, Aspirational consumers are most likely to be among the Millennial (47%) and GenX (34%) generations, compared to 42 percent and 35 percent in the general population, respectively.
  • Strength in Emerging Markets: Countries with the largest populations of Aspirational consumers include Nigeria (58%), India (53%), China (52%), South Africa (52%), Indonesia (51%), Ghana (49%), Peru (49%), Kenya (44%), and Brazil (42%). In developed markets, countries with the largest Aspirational populations include Canada (42%), the United Kingdom, (41%), Russia (41%), Greece (40%), Spain (37%), and the United States (36%).
  • Top Issues: Aspirationals were asked, “What do you think is the most important problem facing the world today?” and they responded:
    • Economic problems / financial crisis / cost of living (12%),
    • Terrorism / war / conflict / nuclear weapons (11%),
    • Unemployment / underemployment / fear of job loss (10%),
    • Environmental quality / pollution / natural resource problems (8%), and
    • Poverty/homelessness (8%).
  • Interest in Learning More: Eight in ten Aspirationals (79%) say, “I am very interested in learning more about the ways that some companies are trying to be more socially and environmentally responsible,” compared to 70 percent of the general population. 


Aspirationals’ 2016 data are based on GlobeScan’s annual Radar survey of the global public. It includes representative samples of around 1,000 adults per country in 21 countries. Interviews were conducted both face-to-face and via telephone between February and March 2016. Based on five years of investigation, it provides a foundation for defining the key audience for sustainable growth. Millennials are defined here as those born between 1982-1998 (18-34 year olds) and GenX from 1962-81 (35-54 year olds).

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