Wunderman Thompson Intelligence has released ‘The Age of Re enchantment’, a new report which explores how a tumultuous few years have left global consumers yearning for something more. The research, from Wunderman Thompson, found 93% of people believe that life is short,, 89% currently see fun as a necessity that keeps them going in trying times, while 83% are actively seeking out experiences that bring them joy and happiness.
The survey of more than 3,000 adults in the UK, US and China by global futures and trend intelligence unit, Wunderman Thomson Intelligence, found that whether numbed by pandemic isolation, burned out by grind culture, or shocked by the 21st Century horrors of politics, war, and climate crisis, people are yearning for wonder, the spectacular and even the otherworldly in their lives.
More than three-quarters of people now say they “just want to feel something, to feel alive” and 74% say they feel like they are waiting for something good to happen. The study also includes interviews with Gen Z-ers from 17 different countries around the world, alongside in-depth expert interviews with thought leaders across a range of fields including psychology, neuroscience, technology, architecture, and design.
76% agree that when something is magical it allows them to escape from the mundane and nearly half of those surveyed (48%) say they tend to avoid things that are predictable and formulaic. Perhaps surprisingly, this is also driving an increasing love for dystopian TV shows, horror movies and podcasts about the supernatural, for example.
Half of respondents say they are fascinated by content that explores dystopian themes or futures and 55% agree that horror provides an opportunity to experience fear in a safe environment (rising to 65% of generation Z) and more than half of people say they enjoy feeling a few goosebumps every now and then (57%), especially millennials (67%). People have always enjoyed being transported, but crucially, there is now an appetite for brands to deliver this, with almost two thirds (65%) of respondents saying they want brands to wow them with spectacular advertising.
Meanwhile 61% want brands to help them feel intense emotions, and 63% want companies and brands to provide multi-sensory experiences. The report finds that consumers are craving experiences that deliver feelings of joy, wonder, magic, and awe, with some looking to darker thrills like the uncanny, surreal, and dystopian. Twice as many respondents said they are likely to buy from brands that bring them a sense of joy (49%), or those that surprise and delight them (45%) than from brands that just do what they say they will (26%).
More than half of consumers want to live in a world where brands think giving customers goosebumps is an important metric. The deep dive asserts that this search for meaning is linked to findings that 56% of people currently feel no sense of community, 85% think people have less time for one another, 38% are lonelier now than pre pandemic and the demands of work and home are leaving many burned out: almost half of people (46%) say they feel tired and burned out all the time.
In addition, 67% believe technology makes us more detached from the real world with 50% feeling it distracts us from living a more interesting life and 71% currently feel anxious about the fate of the planet. Certainly, it seems that brands have an opportunity to help people transcend tough times and jolt them from malaise by celebrating the thrilling, the uplifting, the awe-inspiring and the magical, and can do more to deliver inspiration.
Yet, few brands are tapping into this desire, as 7 in 10 cannot remember the last time a brand did anything that excited them. According to Wunderman Thompson’s data, 61% of people say that “companies and brands aren’t doing anything original” with more almost half saying they “feel tired and burned out all the time” and over two thirds agreeing that technology is making us “feel more detached from the real world.”
“Uncertain times might imply a shift to a more practical attitude, but instead people are yearning for emotion-inducing experiences that deliver feelings of joy and wonder, craving the spectacular, the surreal, and the otherworldly,” says Marie Stafford, Global Director, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.