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Prosumer Reports

New Cities, New Lives

New Cities, New Lives

Havas Global Comms

Havas Global Comms

September 27, 2018

Havas explores the implications of modern life in the big city and efforts under way to solve our greatest urban challenges.

  • Will high-density, sustainable cities save our planet from destruction? Most Prosumers and millennials say yes.
  • More than 6 in 10 millennials believe cities would be better off if people shared more and owned less; 4 in 10 would prefer subscription-based housing to traditional leases or ownership.
  • A majority of current city dwellers would trust food grown on an apartment balcony or terrace more than the produce they buy at grocery stores. More than 7 in 10 say city governments should be required to provide green spaces for urban farming.

Core Insight:

Over the past couple of centuries, agrarian societies have given way to megacities and urban sprawl. Villages and farms have been replaced by apartment complexes, mixed-use developments, and industrial zones, and people have had to adapt. As a society, we have been switching up skill sets, rethinking social customs, and figuring out how best to live in an urbanized world that is relentlessly fast-paced, always changing, and oftentimes frustrating. This essential shift in how most human beings live and work has consequences for society, for governments, and for brands in virtually every industry.

In this study, Havas explores the implications of modern life in the big city and efforts underway to solve our greatest urban challenges.


We are nearing the end of the largest human migration in history. At the start of the 20th century, 1 in 8 people worldwide lived in an urban area. By 2050, two-thirds of us will. What does this mass migration to densely populated areas mean for people? Will having so many of us clustered together on what amounts to just 2% of the planet’s land surface alter our lifestyles? Our cultures? The human species?

In this study of 9,447 adults in 27 countries, Havas Group seeks to understand the allure and agonies of cities—and how brands can contribute to a better tomorrow.

Key findings include:

The allure of urban living lies in advancement, access, and acceptance. People move to cities to get ahead, to experience the very best, and to live more freely. As the world becomes increasingly digitized—affording everyone access to top retailers, schools, entertainment, and jobs no matter where they live—cities will need to compete by accentuating what only they can offer.

Cities may be the solution we seek. Around half of Prosumers, millennials, and current city dwellers surveyed are convinced that having the world’s population living in high-density, sustainable cities will help to save planet Earth from destruction.

10 million may be the loneliest number. We are living in an age when people in general feel disconnected, and that may especially be the case in urban areas. In this study, 58% of city dwellers said living in a city is too impersonal, offering no real sense of community. It is a problem likely to worsen as populations grow older.

City dwellers are hungry for nature. Whether laying claim to an unused plot of land for a vegetable garden or converting a parking space into a micro-park, urbanites are getting more proactive about injecting touches of green into their concrete jungles. Municipalities are beginning to get on board.

People are seeking flexibility in accommodations and work. The notion of living in a single place and working for the same employer for decades on end holds far less appeal now than for earlier generations. People want the freedom to move about, and that means traditional housing paradigms need to change.

Communal is in. Around two-thirds of current urbanites believe that cities would be better if people shared more and owned less. As part of that push, there is a growing market for shared spaces and amenities.

There is a fine line between smart and dystopian. People in general are excited about the potential for cities to get “smarter” thanks to digital innovations, but they are wary of the implications of the Googles of the world taking over. Tech companies will need to proceed cautiously, proving themselves by operating transparently and zealously safeguarding individuals’ privacy.

Brands need to shift from zeroes to heroes. Brands have a lot to answer for when it comes to the current state of cities—from the visual pollution of advertising to the homogenization that is muting cities’ vibrant cultures. They also have plenty to contribute toward making cities more livable, more sustainable, and more satisfying.


One of the world’s largest global communications groups, Havas is committed to creating a meaningful difference to brands, businesses, and people.

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