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Getty Images’ new ‘Visual GPS’ report finds four ‘Forces’ guiding consumers

30-second summary:

  • A new “Visual GPS” report from Getty Images and research firm YouGov finds four Forces influence decision-making by consumers, and thus should be considered by brands when they choose images.
  • The four Forces: Wellness, Technology, Sustainability and Realness.
  • The report provides visual examples of each driving Force, in the form of related galleries.

In a new study called “Visual GPS,” Getty Images and market research firm YouGov has sifted data to find what kind of visual content most engages today’s consumers and helps them make decisions.

The photo archive says the new study is not just another “visual trends” report, but is instead the first of its kind.

The report describes four Forces that influence people’s behaviors, decisions and experiences, and calls them the “driving concepts behind current and future visual trends.” They are: Wellness, Technology, Sustainability and Realness.

Instead of looking only at what images are selling, the report combines external and custom market research about consumer behavior and values, insights that are internal to Getty, and search data from Getty Images and Getty-owned Getty says its study surveyed more than 10,000 consumers and professionals in 13 languages over 26 countries.


The purpose of identifying the four Forces, according Getty’s Global Head of Creative Insights Dr. Rebecca Swift, is to “arm brands with the very best understandings so that they can better choose visuals which align with their aims and target audiences.”

The Forces, she told ClickZ via email, are powerful influences “on the way people behave, and, ultimately, the way they make decisions.” Swift added that the four Forces can increase or decrease in intensity or over time, “depending on who and where you are in the world.”

Wellness isn’t only about physical health or body image, but also includes emotional, mental, spiritual, family and relationship fitness. “It’s up to brands to take more of a 360-degree view of a life lived well,” the report says.

Audiences that are more responsive to Wellness imagery tend to be more female, value “kindness” and “joy” in life, and have higher incomes. Since Wellness is fueled by celebration and togetherness, a gallery of images on this theme represents one aspect of this force. Here’s a sample image:

Credit: AsiaVision / Getty Images


Technology, says Getty, is not necessarily about devices, but about people’s relationships to tech. The driver is a desire for more efficiency – in plans, communicating, recording experiences and sharing – but it’s tempered by a fear of loss of privacy.

The audience that is more passionate about tech is more likely to be younger, have tech integrated into their lives, and be excited about new tech like augmented reality (AR). An AI in Everyday Life Gallery from Getty embodies one approach to visualize tech, such as this image:

Credit: Prasit photo / Getty Images


Quoting from a 30-year-old United Nations definition, Getty describes the Sustainability force as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

But there is conflict within this dimension, split roughly equally between those who “only buy products from brands that make an effort to be eco-friendly,” and those who know they “should care more about the environment, but convenience is more important.”

A Sustainability and Diversity Gallery represents the images the characterize this force, such as:

Getty Visual GPS

Credit: subman / Getty Images


Finally, there’s Realness, also known as Authenticity. Getty identifies two main Realness paths: being true to oneself, and truth in advertising based on standing for what you believe in.

This audience tends to work towards equality, demand honesty and transparency from businesses, belong to a community that has experienced discrimination and expects businesses to celebrate diversity. But a brand needs to do more than just proclaim its values, the report says, because “people no longer accept information as evidence.”

Here’s an example from the Business and Transparency Gallery:

Getty Visual GPSCredit: Trevor Williams / Getty Images

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