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Asia Pacific citizens more positive despite feeling unsafe and distrustful of today’s climate, study says

Viacom’s study concludes that resiliency is on the rise despite growing fears of war and that wealth and success is no longer the top source of happiness.

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) today released the Asia Pacific (APAC) findings of its global research study, THE NEXT NORMAL: THE RISE OF RESILIENCE. A follow-up to the original THE NEXT NORMAL study in 2012**, the sequel surveyed over 28,000 people ages 6-54 in 30 countries, and this includes seven countries in this part of the world (Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the Philippines).

The study revealed that over the past five years, concerns about terrorism have increased globally (by 40 percent), while trust has dramatically decreased in people and institutions (down 33 percent for religious leaders, 25 percent for politicians). Closer to home, the top three things believed to be as bad as they can get are: wars around the world, terrorism and cyber-crime. However, people are more resilient than ever. Close to 70 percent of APAC respondents (global: 71 percent) feel equipped to deal with the lemons that life throws at them, and compared to 2012, they feel more upbeat about life (up 16 percent) and slightly more empowered (up 2 percent).

Despite everything happening in the world, people in APAC are happier now than they were five years ago (76 percent vs. 69 percent) and feel less stressed (30 percent vs. 41 percent). They have shifted their sources of happiness toward experiences over things (with “being successful” and “having plenty of money” dropping on the list of top sources of happiness). When it comes to coping mechanisms, music and humour were identified as key tools for navigating life today, with nearly 80 percent using music for inspiration and 65 percent using humour to achieve things in life.

“Five years ago, we embarked upon a revolutionary new research study which gave us a snapshot of life in 2012,” said Christian Kurz, Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Insights at Viacom. “While many big moments – good and bad – have changed the world over the last half decade, what we’ve learned from our second iteration of THE NEXT NORMAL is that despite rising fears, there is a growing resilience and the APAC community is showing healthy positivity about the future.”

THE NEXT NORMAL: THE RISE OF RESILIENCE revealed four key ways in which people around the world are showing resilience:

While positivity may be on the rise, it comes with hard-edged realism.

  • Trust in many key figures and institutions has declined since 2012, including:
    • Religious leaders (global -33 percent, APAC -26 percent
    • Government and politicians (global -25 percent, APAC N/A)
    • Best friends (global -13 percent, APAC -20 percent)
  • Mom, however, remains the most-trusted person in their lives.


The data shows that over the past five years, there has been a shift in how people define happiness.

  • Spending time with family ranked at #1 in both years.
  • But in 2012, respondents were more focused on time and money, with #2 “being successful,” #3“having plenty of money” and #4 “lots of time for fun & relaxation.”
  • In 2017, money and success went down three spots each, with “lots of time for fun & relaxation”up to #2 and “going away on holiday” now #3, showing a movement from the material toexperiential – today, happiness is about time and how you spend it.
  • Signs of success, too, have shifted, with a focus on being happy, being a part of a loving family, having a job you enjoy, finding the right balance, and surrounding yourself with the right people as the top five signs of success in 2017.


Music and humour are both important tools to get individuals through uncertain times.

  • Nearly four out of five respondents (77 percent) aged 6-54 agree that music inspires them.
    • On a country-by-country basis in APAC, Philippines is the most likely to use music to de-stress (94 percent), with Japan at the other end of the spectrum (49 percent).
      • Philippines 94%
      • Indonesia 91%
      • China 83%
      • Australia 71%
      • New Zealand 71%
      • Japan 49%
  • Eighty-one percent love listening to the same song over and over in this region.
  • Close to half of those surveyed in APAC (48 percent) admit they love dancing when they’re alone in their rooms.
    • In APAC, Philippines (67 percent) and Australia (50 percent), and lead the way when it comes to owning up to boogieing alone, while Japan is at the bottom of the pack (27 percent).
      • Philippines 67%
      • Australia 50%
      • New Zealand 45%
      • China 49%
      • Indonesia 48%
      • Japan 27%
  • Humour is also used as a coping mechanism in APAC, rising from 59 percent in 2012 to 65 percent in 2017, and appears to work across generations.
    • Around the world, citizens in China and Philippines (tied at 79 percent) are the most likely to use laughter as a way to get by, compared to the global average (65 percent).
      • China 79%
      • Philippines 79%
      • Indonesia 69%
      • Australia 61%
      • New Zealand 57%
      • Japan 37%


Outside of social media, more people in APAC are using the Internet to expand their worldviews.

  • Close to 80 percent agree that access to the web changes the way they think about the world (vs. 68 percent in 2012).
  • Worldwide, the top four spots with the view that the internet is changing the way people think about the world belonged to APAC: Indonesia (92 percent), Malaysia (89 percent), Philippines (88 percent), and China (87 percent). The rest of the APAC markets came in at the midway mark – New Zealand (74 percent) and Australia (73 percent), and end point – Japan (50 percent) respectively.
  • Seventy-eight percent (up from 75 percent in 2012) of those surveyed believe their age group has the potential to change the world for the better.
  • People report being more curious about the world (85 percent vs 71 percent) and remain active in their communities (81 percent vs 74 percent), in line with global trends.

With this expanded worldview, more individuals in APAC are expressing openness towards others and a greater support and belief in certain human rights (89 percent in 2017, 68 percent in 2012).

  • Nearly nine in 10 agree everyone should be treated with respect regardless of race, religion and sexuality.
  • APAC figures (68 percent) match the global average of 70 percent who agree that people who are transgender deserve equal rights.
    • Philippines 85%
    • New Zealand 79%
    • China 79%
    • Australia 76%
    • Indonesia 61%
    • Japan 60%

From 2012, increases were seen in the belief that the following are human rights:

  • Same sex marriage (global +19 percent, APAC +2 percent)
    • New Zealand 80%
    • China 78%
    • Australia 77%
    • Japan 68%
    • Philippines 52%
    • Indonesia 21%
  • Practice of any religion (global +5 percent, APAC + 10 percent)
  • Employment (global +5 percent, APAC + 8 percent)
  • Freedom of speech (global +4 percent, APAC +18 percent)
  • Standing up for beliefs (global +3 percent, APAC +14 percent)


With all of this in mind, these are Viacom’s recommendations for creating content and messages that will resonate:

  • Make people feel – and tap into the emotion of music. It’s more important than ever for audiences to feel something powerful – to laugh out loud, cry, get angry, sympathise, get scared, feel empowered. Music is an important tool for unleashing emotions.
  • Show the world in all its flawed complexity. Humour is one way to get there. People of all ages are aware that life is messy and complicated. They’re not hiding from its imperfections – in fact, they often welcome addressing these issues head-on. Comedy makes for the easiest delivery.
  • Offer new experiences, especially with family and friends. People everywhere are longing to experience things, so give them every opportunity to participate.

“Knowing these insights will allow marketers to create relevant content and messages. In a world of division and misunderstanding, unity is a precious commodity. There is appeal in experiencing solidarity based on common interests rather than age,” concluded Christian Kurz, Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Insights at Viacom.


Five years in the making, THE RISE OF RESILIENCE is the sequel to Viacom’s groundbreaking 2012 study THE NEXT NORMAL: AN UNPRECEDENTED LOOK AT MILLENNIALS and uses both historical and new data points in 30 countries to truly understand global outlooks and attitudes today across generations and borders.

For this study, researchers at Viacom surveyed 28,600 people aged 6-54 in 30 countries through an online questionnaire. 27 of those countries were identical to the 2012 study, which focused on a slightly narrower age range (9 to 30). Countries surveyed in 2017 include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada,
Chile*, China, Colombia*, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia*, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,
Spain, Sweden, Turkey, UK, US.

*Not included in the 2012 study


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