Movable Morality

Moveable Morality refers to a shift away from traditional centralized authority towards personal judgments of what is right. This has led to a decrease in public trust of institutions such as the Supreme Court in the US, with only 25% of Americans expressing confidence in it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some governments limited the freedom of their citizens and some consumers chose not to follow guidelines. Brands and companies are also helping customers circumvent laws they may feel are unjust, such as covering travel costs for employees to get abortions and promoting drug use.

This trend originates from the report:


Questioning centralized authority in favor of personal judgements about what is right. Consumers doubt the wisdom of traditional authority figures. One of the symptoms of a polarized society is that it is increasingly difficult for governments and other institutions to command the respect of a majority of citizens.

One prominent example of this is the Supreme Court in the US. Concurrent with its decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling prohibiting restrictions on abortion, public trust in the organization fell to a historic low, with only 25% of Americans expressing confidence in it.

At the same time, consumers around the world are protesting the policies of their governments, from the yellow vest movement in France and dairy farmers in the Netherlands, to truckers in Canada and uprisings in Sri Lanka. The unprecedented increases in energy bills in the UK, meanwhile, gave rise to a Don’t Pay movement of consumers pledging to refuse to pay their bill when a price rise kicked in on 1 October. Some engage in what they see as justified rule breaking.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw many governments limiting the freedom of their citizens to an unprecedented degree, and while most did comply, our consumer research found that 24% in GB and 26% in the US chose not to follow some COVID-19 guidelines. More broadly, 62% in GB and the US agree it’s sometimes necessary to bend the rules, while 71% in GB and 70% in the US agree you can be a good citizen without following every rule (source: Foresight Factory, 2021). Against this backdrop, some companies are helping consumers to circumvent or change laws that they or their customers may feel are unjust.

For instance, brands including Bank of America, CVS Health and Kroger have pledged to cover travel costs for their employees who need to leave their home state for an abortion. Consumers and brands alike are also pushing boundaries when it comes to topics such as drug use. For instance, research from August 2022 shows that for the first time in the US, more consumers smoke marijuana than tobacco cigarettes, while a growing body of research explores the medical applications of the psilocybin found in magic mushrooms.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of products containing CBD have revolutionized attitudes towards cannabis around the world..