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Insight Two: URL balanced against IRL

In the second instalment of our four-part trend forecasting feature, we examine how social media and the internet has bled through into real life.

If you’re thinking about the internet and real life as separate planes of existence, know that your customers, increasingly, aren’t. But as it blurs into one, shoppers are also feeling the burn from this always-on lifestyle – they’re searching for authenticity.

“Constant pressure to be on fire all the time – personally and professionally – is causing many to burn through their mental and physical reserves. Amid a growing focus on wellbeing, individuals are confronting the impact of always-on lifestyles. In 2020, those consumers will look to brands to help them battle the burnout.” – Trendwatching, Five Trends for 2020.

The idea of a consumer backlash to the pressures of consumerism and technology isn’t a new one – in fact, it’s been explored by fiction writers for decades. However, it’s important to understand that in this iteration of anticonsumerism, today’s consumers aren’t totally rejecting modern conveniences – just the bad bits. Shoppers are increasingly craving temporary respite from the negative symptoms of the technology-driven consumer culture that’s central to many peoples’ lives, but they’re still very much engaged with the system as a whole. 

The site of that respite is primarily their homes, but when consumers tire of experiencing life through screens, they expect retailers to meet them in the real world with a bricks and mortar retail experience that makes changing out of their pyjamas worthwhile. Otherwise, they’ll be looking for shoppable activations wherever they are – digital channels like social media, streaming platforms, virtual reality and even online games.

Euromonitor has this to say about children born between 2010 and 2025: “Growing up with technology as an integral part of their lives, Generation Alpha will not distinguish between digital and physical.”

Another source of respite is the unstoppable wellness juggernaut. This global macro-trend has penetrated nearly every retail category over the last few years, propelling gamechanging trends such as activewear and reusable water bottles into popularity. It’s showing no signs of slackening off.

In the US, the latest wellness trend sees a non-psychoactive cannabinoid called cannabidiol or CBD oils becoming incorporated into many personal-care products. CBD is still not freely available in New Zealand, but given that we can expect a cannabis referendum later in 2020, it might be prudent to keep an eye on how it’s going overseas.

Read The rules are changing: Four trends shaping 2020

Read Insight One: Values-based retail evolves

Read Insight Three: Instant gratification

Read Insight Four: Social gets serious

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 766 February / March 2020

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