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Brand Purpose Work Life Balance Wellbeing

Pause > productivity: how brands can support the soft life revolution

By Luke Hodson, Founder

NERDS Collective


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May 25, 2023 | 7 min read

The latest movement driven by Gen Z rejects hustle culture and places importance on balance and wholesomeness. Here, Luke Hodson of Nerds Collective explains how brands can support it.

Close-up of fresh lemonade

The soft life movement rejects societal pressures and expectations / Engin Akyurt

At Nerds Collective, we have found through recent research that the soft life movement is gaining traction among a significant number of young people. The movement originated within Black female communities online, driven by a growing desire to counter societal expectations, the hustle mentality and high-pressure productivity goals that have long dominated modern society.

Emphasizing the importance of self-care, relaxation, and mental well-being, the pursuit of pause is challenging systemic expectations and reshaping traditional life goals for Gen Z.

While the soft life movement is more prevalent in middle-class, more privileged consumers, it will touch all levels of the socioeconomic scale to some degree.

With that said, let’s dive into the drivers of the soft life movement, the role of the pandemic in amplifying this ideology, and how brands can support communities seeking respite and wellness.

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The pursuit of pause

In response to a culture that often prioritizes work and productivity above all else, young people are increasingly embracing the Pursuit of Pause. This approach involves stepping away from traditional, high-pressure goals such as acquiring houses and cars and instead focusing on finding balance and happiness through leisure, self-care, and mental well-being.

The #bareminimummondays hashtag on social media platforms exemplifies this shift, encouraging self-care and relaxation over relentless productivity.

Challenging systemic expectations

The soft life movement is not just a personal choice; it is a challenge to the systemic structural expectations placed on young people. By embracing this ideology, they are rejecting the Western idea that success is solely defined by material wealth and traditional milestones.

Instead, they are redefining success as a holistic balance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being and advocating for a society that values happiness and health as much as productivity.

The pandemic’s amplifying effect

The Covid-19 pandemic played a significant role in amplifying the soft life ideology, as lockdowns, social distancing, and remote work forced many people to reevaluate their priorities and reconsider what truly matters.

For some, this period of isolation and reflection prompted a realization that the relentless pursuit of productivity was not sustainable or fulfilling. As a result, the Pursuit of Pause gained momentum, with more individuals questioning the status quo and seeking a healthier work-life balance.

The rise of the four-day workweek

As the soft life movement gains traction, the pursuit of leisure is becoming more prevalent among young people. This shift in priorities is driving a push for a four-day workweek, which many believe would allow for a healthier balance between work and personal life. This generation is poised to lead the charge in advocating for more flexible and accommodating work arrangements that prioritize well-being and happiness over rigid productivity goals.

How can brands support the soft life movement?

In response to the growing demand for a more balanced and fulfilling life, brands have an opportunity to support the soft life movement and the communities that seek respite and wellness. By encouraging wellness and health over productivity, brands can foster a more supportive and empathetic environment for their consumers. This can be achieved by:

Promoting mental health and self-care initiatives, such as mindfulness exercises, meditation apps, and mental health days.

Offering products and services that cater to relaxation, leisure, and well-being, such as comfortable loungewear, calming teas, or soothing skincare products.

Advocating for flexible work arrangements and policies that prioritize employee well-being, such as remote work options, mental health resources, and shorter work weeks.

Sharing stories of individuals who have successfully embraced the soft life movement, providing inspiration and encouragement for others to follow suit.

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The shift

The soft life movement represents a significant cultural shift, as young people reject the hustle mentality and embrace a more balanced, wellness-focused approach to life. With the Pursuit of Pause gaining momentum, society is witnessing a redefinition of success and the prioritization of health and happiness over productivity.

As the movement continues to evolve, it is crucial for brands to support these values and contribute to the creation of a more compassionate and wellness-first environment.

Brand Purpose Work Life Balance Wellbeing

Content by The Drum Network member:

NERDS Collective

NERDS Collective was founded by Luke Hodson In 2013 as a specialist agency that places brands at the frontline of street culture through hyper-nuanced consumer insights,...

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