The idea of providing a basic income has been around for a long time; Thomas Paine in the 18th Century wrote a pamphlet about how people should receive a basic income funded by “the common property of the human race” i.e. the profits from the land. Its aim is to support people who are struggling with rising living standards equated with poor growth in wages.
Therefore, providing a universal basic income will benefit those around the poverty line the most. These are people who have been labelled as ‘precariats’ as their life has become precarious, filled with insecurity that is not being addressed by the current welfare system. The basic income will lift them out of not being able to afford the essentials to live so that they can consider other opportunities without the worry of whether enough money is going to come in each month.
This will depend on what extra support is available apart from the universal basic income for larger families. This may make the administration of the basic income more complex.
It is also likely to benefit women and young people in particular by giving them a sense of financial independence. Although there are a lot of women who work compared to previous generations, a lot of women still depend on their husbands for disposable income. This is something to bear in mind when considering how household products are going to be advertised in future, as it would be labelled as rather traditional and possibly discriminatory to only target women with these ads.
There is a concern that without the universal basic income, we will not be able to adapt to the changing nature of work. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, this has led some to question the future of our identity, as if we lose our jobs this is part of what people may consider as their identity.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX supports this, and has brought the argument back up recently. He says that the universal basic income is “going to be necessary” to survive the rise of automation and artificial intelligence. However, this view may be considered a little far-fetched as historical events have demonstrated that society can adapt to technological advancement, as seen in the Industrial Revolution. There is the possibility that with further technological advancement this will create more jobs for people, so what would be key here is to retrain people to be able to do these jobs.
Along with the possibility of many jobs becoming redundant, there has been the rise of zero-hour contract jobs, now commonly referred to collectively as the ‘gig economy’; this has offered a lot of people the opportunity for flexible working but it also brings about a level of insecurity. Therefore, it is important going forward that these workers are able to take this risk but to be supported in doing so.
Those who choose to take on flexible roles and work fewer hours will have more time on their hands. Therefore, as marketers, it is important to make timely advantage of this opportunity. If people choose to only work in the morning for example, this would free up more time in the afternoon for leisure time.
This would be a specific group of people, as not everybody is going to choose to work part-time immediately. These are likely to be older people who have the comfort of relying on more savings and having less to pay out for. Therefore, this is likely to change your strategy in the future. People may choose to go to the cinema more in the afternoons during the week and so a cinema company should promote cheaper cinema tickets in order to encourage people to spend this extra income.
The leisure industry has become a much more significant part of British life, as the number of shops and restaurants has multiplied over the last 50 years. Therefore, with the potential for more leisure time, this is a budding area to introduce more competition i.e. new opportunities for setting up a business. This would likely be those who receive enough income to live on, and so would see this extra income as an opportunity for investing in setting up their own business.
Traditionally, a popular choice of spending leisure time would be going to a football match for example. However, with the rise of gaming as a way in which many young people spend their spare time, this is another area that may not have been considered. It has become a much more collective activity, with the Guardian naming it as ‘the world’s newest spectator sport’ in the form of large conventions, such as the ‘League of Legends tournament’ held in Paris in May 2014, to which 30 million people tuned in to watch. If you are considering how to target the younger generation, this is certainly an exciting opportunity to invest in.
We can think of younger people from a professional point of view also, specifically those looking to further establish their careers, as they may choose to invest their extra income in professional development i.e. further education and training. Therefore, for organisations like The Chartered Institute of Marketing, this could offer the potential to attract more people to study with them.
It is possible that the universal basic income will be tested in the UK, as there have been a number of promising results seen from the schemes implemented in other countries, such as Finland and India. There is even a pilot being conducted in Glasgow. For it to be rolled out nationwide however, this means that the question of how it would be funded would need to be addressed, as it has been calculated that it could cost up to 1% of GDP.
In order to afford giving everyone a basic income the Government are likely going to raise the funds by increasing taxation. This is most likely to be an increase in direct taxation, so there are going to be some people who do not benefit at all from the extra income. For example, if the basic income was £100 and some people end up paying £100 more in taxes, then there is no benefit.
To conclude, the universal basic income is an exciting prospect for us all, and offers a number of opportunities for us as marketers, but it may be a while yet before we see any further developments in the consideration of its implementation in the UK.