Consumers are finding more and more reasons to celebrate, presenting increased opportunities for brands. Karen Canty, head of news at the Future Foundation, writes on the 'everyday exceptional' trend which is beginning to characterise consumer habits during the economic downturn.
Did you know that last week on 20 March, the globe celebrated World Happiness Day (which coincided, rather ironically, with the UK Budget)? This worldwide excuse to party may have passed you by in 2013, but by 2014, you may well be donning your glad rags and heading to the nearest international party hotspot. 'Everyday exceptional' is an emerging trend from The Future Foundation which speaks to the growing number of occasions consumers are choosing to celebrate – and the brand opportunities that are springing up as a result. nVision research shows that half of the UK population agrees that people look for any excuse to celebrate these days – rising to nearly three quarters of Gen Y.There are many, many societal reasons for this increase in legitimised fun – here is a random selection:
- We live longer – so there are more birthdays, wedding anniversaries, retirement parties, re-marriages... In Germany, a fifth of the population has already reached retirement age. Female life expectancy in British Columbia is 84. A girl born today in the UK has a 30 per cent chance of living to the age of 100 (National government sources)
- In a number of countries, same-sex weddings and civil partnerships are now available and ready to be celebrated
- So many more societies are dynamically multicultural. Nearly 40 per cent of the population of California is Hispanic in origin, and a quarter is foreign born. (US Census 2011). Over 25 per cent of Australia and over 10 per cent in countries such as France and UK can say the same (OECD 2011)
- There are more students than ever worldwide – and more graduation ceremonies. There are, for example, 2.3 million students in France, around 35 per cent more than a generation ago. In the UK, the number of foreign students doubled in the first decade of the century to reach 280,000 (National government sources)
And there are social elements at play here too. Social media platforms boost the profile of global celebration beyond our front rooms, allowing party-goers in Australia, say, to share their fun with friends in Peru. Television provides ever more opportunities to open up the conversation and celebrate the best moments with fans around the world. Sporting occasions create a myriad of opportunity for shared experience – from Irish racing fans awake at 3am for the Singapore Grand Prix to the ever-so-British Wimbledon fortnight. And on a smaller, more local scale – is it forgivable to forget your sister’s birthday when it is listed on Facebook...? Far better to offer a public greeting and be part of the celebration.Within this festive atmosphere is a wealth of opportunities for brands. As well as using existing celebrations to create pretexts for engagement – invitations to celebrate Mardi Gras, visit Dubai for Diwali, enjoy an Australia Day hoe-down, buy a Pepsi Super Bowl Party pack – we’re also seeing new products, services and markets springing up, all intent on bringing the fun to our doors. For example, Asda used the plinth of the Chinese New Year in January to give customers a reason to cook something different at home while connecting with consumer price sensitivity (a 'feast – all for just £6').
Asda Chinese New Year campaign, created by Gratterpalm
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Oreo ran a viral Facebook campaign for 100 days in 2012, each day unveiling a new design under the banner of a 'daily twist' – according to Kraft Foods, the designs were inspired by events happening on each of the days in question, including Gay Pride, Talk Like a Pirate Day, the launch of the iPhone 5 and the Emmy Awards.
Examples of Oreo's Daily Twist 100-day campaign, created by Draftfcb and 360i
Parties and celebrations can have the additional effect of weakening price-sensitivity and encouraging innovative consumption. Nobody goes to the Notting Hill Carnival wearing a drab shirt; fewer are going to throw Christmas parties offering only mince pies when it will be so much trendier to offer farofa or mazurek. Yes, like you, we can envision a slightly cynical future of over-commercialised, over-merchandised events like British Brussel Sprout Week vying with National Bring Your Cat To Work Week for our small change. But there is also huge scope for brand creativity in here too; new ways to engage consumers and share the fun. Why can’t brands throw parties for us when we reach milestones? Boost our social capital with opportunities to parade our skills as hosts? At the heart of the everyday exceptional trend throbs a fathomless invitation to the marketer keen, for commercial reasons, to change behaviour among customers.