THE WAR AGAINST WANT

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS -

Ev­ery year, sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple travel from across the globe to ex­pe­ri­ence the In­te­gra­tron sound bath, which uses a range of noises to in­duce a med­i­ta­tive state. The wooden dome, which is 38 feet high and 55 feet wide, is lo­cated near Cal­i­for­nia’s Joshua Tree Na­tional Park and is per­haps the ul­ti­mate tem­ple of the “self-care” era.

David Fry­mann, strat­egy part­ner at Fron­tier, de­scribes his ex­pe­ri­ence at In­te­gra­tron with a quote from the char­ac­ter Alex in the An­thony Burgess book A Clock­work Or­ange: “Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gor­geous­ness and gor­geousity made flesh.”

He at­tributes its suc­cess to sit­ting at the sweet spot of two trends: self-care and the ex­pe­ri­ence econ­omy. “Whether you’re a brand owner or look­ing to at­tract and re­tain tal­ent, who wouldn’t want to cre­ate a mag­netic propo­si­tion that gets talked about and lures peo­ple in from ev­ery­where? To turn dis­en­gaged au­di­ences into avid con­sumers, it’s a ques­tion of lis­ten­ing to what mat­ters and act­ing on it,” he says.

Lis­ten­ing to what mat­ters is not nec­es­sar­ily an easy feat in the al­ways-on mar­ket­ing ecosys­tem. None­the­less the con­cept of self-care is no longer the sole pre­serve of the New Age move­ment, en­light­ened ad agency lead­ers or the Sil­i­con Val­ley set, who ban screen time for their chil­dren, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously sell­ing their plat­forms to the masses.

His­tor­i­cally, brands have per­pet­u­ated the myth that men pur­sue “hob­bies” while women have the some­what empty prom­ise of “me time”. Con­versely, self-care is emerg­ing as a gen­der­less and fluid mar­ket­ing plat­form, which is ex­pand­ing to en­com­pass a grow­ing range of prod­ucts and ser­vices.

Even McDon­ald’s has jumped on the self-care band­wagon, with a so­cial-me­dia #self­care cam­paign sur­round­ing the act of hav­ing a McCafé premium roast cof­fee. So is “self-care”, once con­sid­ered a niche trend, now be­com­ing main­stream?

Ab­so­lutely, ac­cord­ing to data from the Pew Re­search Cen­tre, which found that mil­len­ni­als are in­vest­ing more than twice the amount baby boomers do in self-care prod­ucts and ser­vices such as diet plans, life-coach­ing and ther­apy. Mean­while the growth of apps such as med­i­ta­tion aid Headspace con­tin­ues to point to the bur­geon­ing role of tech­nol­ogy as a so­lu­tion to the prob­lems of its own cre­ation.

Hans Howarth, group chief ex­ec­u­tive and founder of cre­ative trans­for­ma­tion com­pany No­mads, ar­gues that self-care is one rem­edy de­vised in re­sponse to a sense of de­tach­ment and pow­er­less­ness among con­sumers.

“Stud­ies show a cor­re­la­tion be­tween anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion ex­hib­ited by teenagers and so­cial-me­dia us­age. And the way we do busi­ness on these plat­forms – shout­ing loud and far – is part of that prob­lem. We’ve brought down the bar­ri­ers in the name of con­nec­tiv­ity and pro­ceeded to drive con­sumers to the point of feel­ing dis­con­nected from them­selves,” he says.

The re­sult of this sense of dis­con­nect­ed­ness has rel­e­vance to mar­ket­ing across the board. In New York, the city that fa­mously never sleeps, Nap York has launched, a fa­cil­ity where you can pay $10 to rent a “nap pod” for 30 min­utes. In busi­ness cir­cles, mean­while, the need to cul­ti­vate self-care has led to the era of Sh­eryl Sand­berg’s Lean In be­ing su­per­seded by the well­be­ing agenda of Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton’s Thrive.

Gra­cie Page, cre­ative tech­nol­o­gist at Y&R Lon­don, says the bur­geon­ing of the mind­ful­ness econ­omy over the past five years, cou­pled with the fa­tigue brought on by an ul­tra-fast life­style, is caus­ing peo­ple to re­con­sider how they can re­claim their san­ity and health. This shift, she ar­gues, is im­por­tant to ev­ery brand, not just those with an ob­vi­ous right to own a slice of the well­ness mar­ket.

The rise of this so­cial-me­dia-fu­elled self-care agenda means that brands are pri­ori­tis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, self-im­prove­ment and the en­vi­ron­ment above the tra­di­tional aes­thet­ics of mar­ket­ing.

Lily Fletcher, strat­egy di­rec­tor at de­sign agency Ac­cept & Pro­ceed, which works with Mole­sk­ine, Nike and Nasa, be­lieves that self-care is part of a larger awak­en­ing about how new ways of liv­ing are af­fect­ing us. She says: “It is a big op­por­tu­nity for brands to have a more con­scious di­a­logue with con­sumers, cre­at­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices that de­liver on a more emo­tion­ally aware level.”

In the tech sphere, the Time Well Spent move­ment has driven a re­newed fo­cus on oper­at­ing-sys­tem de­sign­ers tak­ing a stance on the way dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies can help, rather than hin­der, hu­man health. “We’re of­fi­cially in the realm of big tech cham­pi­oning qual­ity over quan­tity,” Page says. “This is go­ing to spell the be­gin­ning of a new era in con­tent and comms con­sump­tion, and it’s our job to un­der­stand how to nav­i­gate that in a mean­ing­ful way for our brands.”

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