Key Trend – Return to the Real
Our trend for this quarter is a counterbalance to the 21st century phenomenon around the virtual world and artificial intelligence: Return to Things Real.
How does this return to the real manifest itself?
The lines structuring our days are getting more and more blurry
Spontaneity and impulse have taken over people’s lives, and consumers no longer plan events as far in advance as they used to – instead, they act on impulse and decide to meet up in a matter of seconds (on WhatsApp, for instance).
What’s more, working hours are less structured, leading to a growth of co-working spaces. This is an important shift in consumer lives, and one brand’s cannot ignore.
The “experience economy” is rising
The “experience economy”, where effects produced by goods and services are more emphasized than the goods and services themselves is currently an unavoidable global trend. Consumption is no longer about possession, about what goods say about their owners, it is about spontaneity, entertainment and experiences that stimulate all of our senses. It is about creating moments that are unique, and about sharing them with others.
Experiences relate to happiness
Happiness is considered by economists as a relevant indicator of a country’s good health. Today, the world seems more uncertain than ever, and people seem to find refuge in that pursuit of happiness.
It turns out that fleeting experiences and shared moments matter more than the accumulation of material goods: once an object is acquired, the initial thrill eventually fades away, people get used to it. Experiences, however, are unique and create strong, long lasting memories.
Studies have shown that people were happier when spending money on living rather than having, leading to a projected 22% growth of the “non-essential” categories (holidays, eating out, etc.) over the next five years.
Some more specific examples of returning to the real
A decrease in retail: in the UK, retailers have seen the growth of non-food goods reach a new, unprecedented low. Even over Christmas, consumers have been shown to favour experiences over shopping sprees.
A rise in spendings on holidays: as a consequence of the decrease in retail, it’s not surprising that family holidays have taken over the usual spending on toys. Holidays remove us, physically and mentally, from the everyday life, gather us in a joyful way and have an emotional impact on children.
Food: strong players in the BFY category, simple, wholesome ingredients and minimal processing are making an important comeback in consumers’ lives. Bulgur, buckwheat, oats and other grains are the new stars in restaurants and social media.
(26 grains, in Seven Dials, brings “hygge” inspired dishes to your table)
Newspapers and magazines: studies have shown that almost 70% of American adults read newspapers every month, online, on mobile, but also in print. Our current political and global contexts might be responsible for this to some extent, but online advertising is certainly another, as more and more people use ad blockers and favour paper copies of their magazines and newspapers.
How brands have started tapping into this return to the real
Encouraging and mentoring people’s creativity: In January 2018, food restaurant Nando’s opened its own recording studio in its restaurant on Frith Street. This space was designed to encourage new talents to collaborate in a familiar, friendly environment. Previously, the company had already shown its interest in supporting people’s creativity by launching Nando’s Music Exchange, a programme offering collaborative workshops and mentoring from renowned artists such as Ella Eyre or Stormzy.
(The Nando’s recording studio in Frith Street)
Organising real life experiences: the restaurant chain Pizza Express also got involved in music thanks to its Pizza Express Live platform, which organises over 2,000 shows every year, having more than 20 restaurants that host regular events every week in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
(The Pizza Express live platform)
Real life dating: online dating apps have lost a lot of their splendour. In June 2017, the dating app Bumble launched The Hive, where people could meet their dates in real life rather than online. In parallel, Tonight, has entered the dating apps arena, boldly claiming #MeetInRealLife. Instead of endless texting, wasted time and potential ghosting, the app arranges proper dates based on the user’s availability and the person they want to meet.