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Will technology kill us or make us stronger?

NEW YORK, US / JOHANNESBURG, SA: McCann "Truth about Wellness" global research study reveals multiple contradictions & cultural upsets around the world. More than half of respondents (54%) think that technology is making us healthier while 46% think it is making us sicker; globally 94% of consumers agree brands have a role in supporting their wellness needs.
McCann Truth Central, the global intelligence unit of McCann Erickson, reputed to be the world's largest advertising agency, has released a new global research study, "The Truth About Wellness," an online global study based on a quantitative survey of 7,000 respondents in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa and Turkey and supplemented qualitatively in the US, UK, Japan, Peru and Brazil.

"There is an exciting technological revolution in the wellness arena today which is empowering consumers, and transforming our health. However, with obesity seen as the number one threat to future health, there are also concerns that technology is encouraging bad behaviours." said Daryl Lee, McCann's global chief strategy officer. "The good news is that 94% of consumers say brands have a role in supporting their wellness needs. There has never been a better time for brands to lead positive change."

John Cahill, CEO, McCann Health commented, "In the healthcare space in particular, wellness is a potent global trend. It's a time of transition for healthcare professionals and the majority (66%) of people are looking for doctors to focus on prevention as well as curing illness."

Laura Simpson, global director, McCann Truth Central, who led the study, added, "In many ways the Age of Wellness is upon us and is full of contradictions that brands can help to resolve. From China to Brazil, we uncovered an array of unexpected cultural truths about the nature of modern wellness."

Why South Africa was selected as one of the countries in the study

Dallas Glover, who heads up Truth Central for Southern Africa said "South Africa is part of the global Truth Central team and was specifically selected to take part in the study because of the diversity that exists within the country and influence it could play on Wellness per se. As wellness and healthcare are becoming increasingly important to the country, and communications as a whole, this study really gives us substance and direction, and has uncovered some very interesting truths. South Africa in particular had quite a few outliers compared to other regions and what is fascinating is the all-encompassing view of wellness and the fact that all aspects of life play an important part in wellness, particularly the wellness of our society and not only individuals".

1. The Chinese are terrified of aging. Only 7% like the idea of getting older versus 39% in Brazil. This represents a dramatic shift given that old age has long been revered and respected in China.

2. Brazilians are obsessed with happiness. The happiest countries are thought to be: Brazil, US, Australia and Switzerland (and the majority of Brazilians agree! They have a huge level of confidence in their own happiness). Unsurprisingly, the British think the Australians are the happiest.

3. If you're 34 it's all downhill (unless you're Japanese). Globally, people agreed that the optimal age to achieve wellness is 34 (although in Turkey they think it is 23 and in Japan it is 44). Globally, we think it is easier for women to achieve wellness as opposed to men.

4. Only 5% of humanity would like to have a clone. But many consumers are already gearing up for a science fiction future where technology will bring a host of health benefits. If they could, 32% of consumers would choose to remain the same age forever, 26% would erase unpleasant memories, 18% would insert a microchip to constantly measure their health and 12% would eliminate their need for sleep.

5. 21% think doctors will be obsolete in the future. Four in 10 people already feel more in control of their health as a direct result of technology and a third trust technology more than their instincts. However, 66% think that if doctors can focus more on preventing illness rather than curing they'll be more valuable to consumers.

6. Cyberchondriacs are most likely to diagnose themselves with depression. 1 in 4 think that our obsession with health is making us unhealthy and the other illnesses that cyberchondriacs are most likely to diagnose themselves with are obesity-related illnesses, allergies and migraine said the study.

7. 49% of people regularly do brain exercises to ensure brain power and health. In the past, health was all about your heart whereas now that Alzheimer's is on the rise people are just as focused on keeping their brain healthy. If forced to choose, UK, Brazil, US and Turkey would preserve their mental health over their physical health.

8. Death by cancer is our greatest fear but 20% of Brazilians think that urban violence will get them first. Globally, the # 1 thing people think will kill them is cancer (27%). Of all the countries in the study, the British are most concerned about heart attacks and the Japanese are most concerned about Alzheimer's.

9. The average person thinks they'll live to 80 (but hopes to live to 87). In China, people think they'll live to 84 but in Turkey this falls to 70. In the US, people would like to live to 92 (79 in Turkey). This is surprising given that, on average, people feel that they start to lose quality of life at around 65 years of age (73 in the US).

10. Young men worry more than women that Facebook is making them fat. Globally, 25% of young men vs. 17% of young women worry that their obsession with technology and social networking is encouraging more sedentary living (and therefore obesity). One in ten people globally think that Facebook is making them fat and in Brazil this rises to two in 10, thereby redefining the term "couch potato" for the iPad generation.

Read the Wellness Executive Summary (large file).

About McCann Truth Central

McCann Truth Central is McCann Erickson's global intelligence unit, with representation in more than 100 countries around the world. The group is dedicated to uncovering human truths to help brands make their mark in the world. For more about Truth Central or to access The Truth about Wellness or previous Truth Studies, visit:

Find out more about McCann Erickson and McCann Johannesburg here in South Africa.
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