Landmark research from Getty Images reveals people care most about wellness of family, self and the Earth but shows gap between intention and action

Getty Images press release – 25 February 2020.
  • Pioneer of visual trend methodology, Getty Images launches Visual GPS, the next generation of industry leading global visual research
  • New proprietary insight and research identifies four key “Forces” that drive consumer preferences around visual content and impact purchase decision making
  • Key issues affecting people today include sustainability’s consumption conundrum; the binary impact of technology on wellness and relationships; inclusion as a critical obligation

People place high value on the wellness of themselves, their family and the Earth, but intention does not always necessarily translate into action according to Visual GPS, new landmark research unveiled today by Getty Images, a world leader in visual communications and pioneer in the field of visual trend methodology. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage and assist consumers in bridging the gap between intention and action, the research finds.

Built on 25 years of experience, Visual GPS looks at the key Forces that drive consumer engagement and purchasing behavior across geographies, generations, gender and employment, delivering unrivalled insight into what today’s consumers care about so brands can better choose visuals that will resonate with them. This first-of-its-kind global research effort leverages Getty Images’ proprietary sales and search data, from over one billion searches annually, as well as insights from its Creative Insights team and a wide-ranging consumer survey which was completed in conjunction with global market research firm YouGov.

“We live in an increasingly visual world. Having the perfect image, video, or illustration can mean the difference between connecting with your audience or simply being bypassed,” said Ken Mainardis, Senior Vice President, Content, Getty Images.

“It can be difficult to choose visual content that will resonate with your target consumer, unless you understand what’s important to your customers and what drives their decision making – this is the problem Visual GPS seeks to solve.”

Following the launch of the initial report, Visual GPS will deliver fresh insights throughout 2020 and beyond, through reports, articles, videos, social content and custom opportunities.

Initial findings of Visual GPS surface several pressing issues, most notably highlighting the disconnect between intention and action around sustainability. Of the over 10,000 people surveyed 92% of respondents said they believe the way we treat our planet now will have a large impact on the future and yet 48% also say that although they know they should care more about the environment through their purchasing habits, convenience takes priority.

“Our research shows us there is an opportunity for companies and brands to help consumers bridge the gap between their attitudes and their actions,” said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images.

“Visual GPS shows us that sustainability is a universal concern across generations, gender and regions – the potential for positive action is huge but consumers won’t engage if brands are not speaking to these issues in authentic visual terms.”

Visual GPS explores how consumers are influenced by four key “Forces”-Technology, Sustainability, Realness and Wellness-and what that means in terms of their decision making. The Getty Images Creative Insights team-comprised of artists, curators, archivists, futurists and art directors-initially identified these key Forces through a combination of interviews, observations and visual analysis, before embarking on a custom study surveying more than 10,000 people in 13 languages across 26 countries, to provide further context around the concept of visual representation. Each of the Forces reveal important findings around what concerns consumers and how brands and businesses can respond.  


“We’ve found evidentiary proof that sustainability is important to consumers of all ages across geographies and cultures, but sustainability issues collide with purchases that bring enormous pleasure and help improve wellbeing,” Dr. Swift said.

“Our search data has seen huge increases in interest for reusable coffee cups, straws, water bottles, etc. This has led to the need to rethink what lifestyle and business visual content looks like. Often bottles, cups, and straws are small elements of a larger scene, but it’s important to rethink what’s in the image or video and whether it meets the modern sustainable standards of consumers.”

Key findings include:

  • A “consumption conundrum” of sorts.  Of those surveyed 81% see themselves as eco-friendly but only 50% say they only buy products from brands that try to be eco-friendly.
  • Consumers who are passionate* about sustainability are likely to pay 10-15% more for products or services from companies that:

**Use sustainable practices

**Are aligned with their values

**Have transparent business practices

**Care about the wellbeing, safety, and security of customers.


“Of all the driving forces in people’s lives today, technology is arguably the one that creates the greatest amount of dynamic tension,” said Dr. Swift.

“Visual GPS findings suggest that although people rely on technology to help them manage their lives and connect with loved ones, there’s a fear that privacy is at risk and concern about becoming lost in our screens at the expense of our relationships.”

“We are seeing the language of technology change as quickly as tech itself-and that holds true of visual expectations – particularly when you work in a cutting-edge field. Staying current is important, as is understanding technology’s benefits and drawbacks in the way they’re expressed visually.”

Key findings include:

  • On the bright side, 79% of those surveyed say technology makes them feel connected to those that matter most. On the downside, 41% say some of their relationships have been damaged by the use of technology.
  • The younger you are, the more likely you are to feel as though your life isn’t as great as the lives of others because of time spent on social media, with 65% of GenZ, 55% of Millennials, 37% of GenX and 20% of Baby Boomers stating they believe this. Taken as a whole, 42% of people feel this way.
  • On visualizing technology, Getty Images customer search data shows 62% of brands are looking to depict technology benefiting or working alongside humans.


“There are two paths-sometimes parallel and sometimes intersecting – that Realness takes: one is personal-being true to oneself – and the other is marketplace oriented – truth in advertising; proof of inclusivity,” Dr. Swift said.

“Both of these paths are based on transparency, authenticity, standing for what you believe in and tolerance. Consumers no longer accept information as evidence and this is particularly true if a brand has taken a stand, supported a cause, promised sustainability, etc. Taking people “behind the scenes” and providing a 360 view satisfy consumer demand for transparency.”

Key findings include:

  • People want to see realness in the visuals that surround them, with 80% saying companies need to show people with all body shapes and types.
  • 68% of respondents say it’s important to them that the companies they buy from celebrate diversity of all kinds, with younger people, specifically Millennials and GenZ, strongly feeling this way (76%) followed by GenX and Baby Boomers (61%).
  • People  are using their purchasing power to make a stand on the issues they care about with 33% saying they have boycotted a brand that went against their values in the past two years and 34% saying they have started purchasing a brand that supported a cause they believe in. 74% want to know what goes on behind the scenes when a product is produced.


“Although the assumption might be that people tend to value physical health over mental health, Visual GPS findings suggest that not only do people place a high value on both (88% and 90%, respectively), but an almost equally high value,” explains Dr. Swift.

“Historically, brands have expressed wellness as physical health, but we’re now seeing a move toward visual expression of how we facilitate wellness in our lives, such as an increased desire to celebrate the good in life with our friends and family or engage in exercise with friends.”

Other key findings include:

  • People care most about the health and wellbeing of family members (61%) ahead of their own personal health and wellbeing (60%) and financial security (58%). People worry most about dishonesty (50%), people being unkind (44%) and how we treat our environment and inequality (39%).
  • When it comes to physical health, we see near-equal generational participation. “Exploring concepts around physical and emotional wellness is what I’d consider a win-win for brands,” Dr. Swift said. “In fact, roughly nine out of ten people support discussion around mental health more broadly.”

To download the full Visual GPS report visit

About Visual GPS

Visual GPS is a first-of-its kind solution to help Getty Images customers navigate their visual strategy. Getty Images partnered with YouGov, a global market research firm, surveying more than 10,000 consumers and professionals in 13 languages across 26 countries, as well as leveraging Getty Images proprietary insights and search data, from over one billion searches annually. The landmark research details key insights relating to consumer decision making, helping brands to navigate the crowded visual landscape and select the visuals which resonate best with their target audience. Fresh insights will be unveiled throughout 2020 and beyond, through reports, articles, videos, social content and custom opportunities.

Visual GPS is grounded in 25 years of Getty Images research into visual representation and represents the ongoing guidance that only Getty Images, as a leader in visual communications, can offer. Helping brands take visual storytelling to the next level. For more information, visit

Picture credit ©Getty Images