WeTransfer's Fourth Annual Ideas Report Uncovers Rapidly Shifting Power Balance in the Creative Industries, Shows Rising Dominance of Emerging Markets

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One of the world’s largest creative workforce studies surveyed 10,000 creatives from 135 countries to understand how 2021 has reshaped the creative landscape worldwide

AMSTERDAM — November 3, 2020 — WeTransfer, the leading provider of tools to streamline the creative process, today unveiled its fourth annual Ideas Report, one of the world’s largest studies on the creative workforce. 

Among its top findings, the report shows the emergence of new global creative hubs and the immense pressure that Gen Z–those born between 1997 and 2012–faces in and out of work. According to respondents, the balance of creative power is shifting under pressure from a variety of avenues and unexpected new creative hubs in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia are beginning to emerge. Gen Z in particular is feeling the friction of today’s changing landscape, citing high amounts of stress and mental health issues; furthermore, roughly 60% of Gen Z respondents are considering switching careers–the highest percentage of any demographic. They want the organizations they work with and for to help shoulder the responsibility of making the world a better place. Similarly, marginalized creatives are asserting values important to them, like sustainability, gender and racial equity, and humanitarian issues, to the forefront of their professional work.

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The report shares takeaways from more than 10,000 creatives across photography, design, music, tech, and more, with 135 countries represented across all seven continents. It is packed with data-rich insights that illuminate a rapidly changing contemporary creative landscape that prioritizes diverse voices, values-driven work, and corporate responsibility.

“The creative industry–and the individuals it's made of–are notoriously challenging to understand. This year’s Ideas Report offers the perfect roadmap for working with creatives in ways that are supportive, authentic, and fruitful,” said Damian Bradfield, Chief Creative Officer. “It gives us an unprecedented look into what makes creatives tick and closely examines what they are thinking, doing, and feeling. With this knowledge on hand, we look forward to collaborations that produce beautiful, world-changing ideas.”

Highlights from the 2021 Ideas Report include:

“Creativity is dying in the West—make way for younger, bolder challengers from emerging markets” 
  • Creatives from Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia are 12% more likely to take risks than their Western counterparts, 11% more confident in their ideas, and 11% more optimistic about their careers.
  • 66% of creatives in Mexico are taking more creative risks since the pandemic while only 33% of creatives in Europe and North America are willing to take the same amount of creative risk that they did before the pandemic began.
  • Creatives in the US, UK, France, Germany, and Canada are stagnating (and, well, growing old). 55% of creatives surveyed in the US are over 45 years old, versus only around 30% in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.

“Gen Z is feeling the pressure—but that won’t stop their creativity.”
  • 50% of Gen Z respondents cite mental health as the main creative distraction during the pandemic; 60% are thinking of switching jobs in the next six months.
  • Gen Z respondents were 8% less likely to be personally committed to climate issues than average respondents. Instead, they want brands to take the lead in fighting for a more sustainable future.
  • 75% of Gen Z respondents think brands should commit to climate, racial, and social justice issues, the highest across all age groups.Despite negative circumstances, Gen Z is bursting with creative energy.
  • 61% are willing to take more creative risks and 53% are dedicating more time to creativity, outperforming other age groups by 5-10%.

“Women and people of color are fired up for change (white men, wake up)”

  •  Last year, almost half of women questioned whether they had the skills to pull an idea off, and 53% had deep concerns about the future.
  • This year, women, nonbinary people, and people of color are taking their frustrations and using them as fuel to pursue professional work that reflects their inner moral compasses; about 50% want to align their personal values with their professional work. 
  • The issues at the top of the list involve the environment (62%), sustainability (59%), gender and racial equality (45%), and humanitarian issues (44%).
  • White men, on the other hand, are struggling to see the relevance, with only 33% saying the same.

“Clients don’t care about your creativity” 
  • 90% of creatives believe clients play a crucial role in the creative process; 81% of clients think the same about creatives. Creatives and clients alike are craving open, honest communication and respect above all else. 
  • Almost a third of clients feel less connected to the people they work with and how ideas are communicated is just as important as the ideas themselves.
  • Clients want creatives who are organized and creatives want clients who are trusting. Both sides need to drop egos and trust each other to do great work. Presenting ideas in ways that make sense for everyone will make that possible.

“The mass exodus of creatives has begun” 
  • 45% of global creatives are thinking of changing their jobs in the next six months.
  • Creatives who are thinking of switching jobs are 36% more likely to feel squeezed financially, 32% more likely to feel their work/life balance is off, and 50% less likely to feel connected to the people they work with.
  • Creatives are generally feeling underappreciated for and unmotivated by their work: only 55% feel appreciated and valued, only 49% are seeing their visions realized, only 43% feel they are doing something good for the world, only 41% feel they can maintain work/life balance and only 37% feel fairly compensated.
  • Recognition is important to creatives but the kind of recognition matters: 35% of creatives said they wanted to be featured in industry publications while only 15% said awards shows.
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This year’s report offers an introspective view into how creative professionals are reorienting their lives and work. The result is a forecast of the global creative industry, offering a strong foundation for more impactful collaborations going forward.

Experience the 2021 Ideas Report or read past reports at ideasreport.com. To read the full report download the PDF here.

Assets

Go to LINK to access the online version of the WeTransfer Ideas Report

Go to LINK to download the PDF of the results

Go to LINK to download all media assets

Methodology

In July and August of 2021, WeTransfer asked over 10,000 people from 135 countries how their creative worlds have changed in the past year. We partnered with brand transformation consultancy, TRIPTK, and Strategy Consultant Traci Lupo to design the survey and analyze the results.

About WeTransfer

Having made its name in the game of quick and simple file-sharing, WeTransfer has evolved into a set of tools that streamlines the workflow process for creative professionals, enabling them to collaborate, share, and deliver their work. The company has more than 80 million monthly active users in 190 countries.

As a certified B Corporation™, WeTransfer strives to use business as a force for good. Since the beginning, WeTransfer has donated up to 30% of advertising real estate to raise awareness for artists, creative work, and the world’s most pressing issues such as climate change and gun reform. This has led to partnerships with artists and organizations like Björk, John Legend, Solange Knowles, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the UN Development Program.

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