Unintendedly, our smartphones steal much of our presence. They lower the quality of our lives, simply because we have not yet learnt to create the necessary boundaries between online and offline. If you like me feel that your smartphone ends up stealing valuable time and mental space, you are not alone, but part of the growing number of digitally fatigued people. The good news is, that across industries companies have started to tap into the growing trend for disconnection and digital detox. This offers new opportunities for producers and brand owners to create innovative products and “real” world experiences to engage the digitally fatigued consumers with more mindful and healthy alternatives.
From functional signal-blocking to “real life” experiences
In the functional end of the scale the demand is surging for tools to help us get offline via simple restrictions. The get-offline app, Moment, as an example, helps you track your smartphone usage (with often daunting statistics to follow) and sets daily limits, which locks your phone for a determined period of time. Signal-blocking pouches can help your awareness while driving or studying, as all notifications are thereby blocked. Nokia has this year re-launched its simple 3310 mobile phone with calls and text messages as smartest features.
Within the travel and hospitality industry companies such as Time to Log Off and Unplugged Weekend offer “digital detox” retreats, 5:2 digital diets, and festivals, with inspiration to limit your tech use and reconnect with “real” life.
A mobile-free pint, please
The quest for offline time taps into the megatrend of meaningful experiences. Where consumers increasingly seek help to seize the moment and reconnect to nature. Resorts such as the Tree Hotel in northern Sweden with its creatively designed tree top houses e.g. the “bird nest” and “UFO” offer a secluded, mindful break from tech and a return to the present moment.
The thirst for authenticity follows a mental shift that the real world cannot be rivalled by the virtual world. Urban cafes and restaurants emphasise the need for genuine face-to-face experiences, meaningful real-life conversations and mindful eating via banned wi-fi or locked-away smartphones. Meantime Brewing Company’s pop-up bar in London, as an example, asked visitors to hand-in their smartphones to enjoy a “mobile-free pint”.
Dating apps like Bumble are also reacting to the digital fatigue of the online dating world by setting up pop-up offline urban spaces, where users can meet and interact in real life, thereby going back to the basics of dating.
Demand for tactile offerings
A growing interest is also seen in sensory experiences such as the tactile offering of physical diaries and self-improvement planners e.g. happiness, gratitude and mindfulness journals, as well as the ever so popular bullet journaling. Upscale paper diaries are enjoying soaring sales, according to the Financial Times. Moleskine’s revenues have been growing in the last couple of years, among other things due to the fact that millennials are keen to “rediscover paper”, according to the company’s co-founder Maria Sebregondi in the Financial Times.
New brand engagement and 360 degree immersion
Digital fatigue has also entered the branding landscape with new opportunities for brands to engage the consumers in more meaningful connections or take part in the debate about digital addiction. The sauce brand Dolmio launched last year the “pepper hacker”, a device to automatically disable surrounding wi-fi to help families reclaim dinner time.
Retail brands have also realised that successful consumer engagement lies in a mixture of digital and physical presence and in being authentic by facilitating real life experiences and interactions. In offline channels more real shopping experiences are on the rise, such as John Lewis’s The Residence – a furnished in-store apartment where customers can shop, eat and even sleep over, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s newly launched Goop Lab, which is described as a “100% shoppable bungalow”, with products curated in a “real life” home setting.
What’s your mindful offering?
The demand for mindful experiences and digital disconnection is expected to grow even stronger in the years to come with new opportunity spaces for brands to engage the consumers with meaningful experiences and authenticity as part of their brand universe or product offerings. Therefore, if you are a brand owner, my question to you is – how do you help your target group get more presence, authenticity and digital absence into their lives.
About the author
Karina Kaae Hermansen, has a background as management consultant from McKinsey and works as innovation and trend adviser at Sustainable Lead. She is specialised in future consumer trends in the areas of healthy and sustainable living and advises companies and organisations in how to adapt to the future opportunities.
Would you like to learn more about how you can tap into the opportunities of digital detox or hear about the latest trends in the areas of sustainable lifestyle, health and wellness?
Contact Karina at Karina@SustainableLead.com or +4560540901