From Gua Sha to hardcore hiking, M&C Saatchi Australia Sport & Entertainment’s head of communications and FABRIC lead Krystyna Frassetto on the lessons marketers can learn from the resurgence of trends
In the second instalment of FABRIC Five, M&C Saatchi FABRIC explores five recent hyper-passions, shining a light on weird and wonderful hyper-passions that are constantly emerging and evolving. This month the team explore how old has become new again and the lessons for marketers.
This boom in more nuanced hyper-passions flourishing loud and proud across the internet is fascinating to watch, as audiences reinvent themselves and community sub-cultures emerge. It provides us with new angles through which to define ourselves as individuals and collectives, leading to greater exploration of cultural grey areas and the spaces in between.
1. Paleolithic Rituals
With self-care at an all-time high, consumers are tuning in to and seeking out products and practices that optimise their mind and body. A rose quartz, influencer-led revival of the Gua Sha, an ancient Chinese medical practice, dominated news feeds and shopping carts of beauty lovers’ in 2020 but has recently made waves again following a post by Estee Laundry.
Gua Sha dates back to paleolithic times, using lymphatic drainage techniques to improve circulation, decrease puffiness and contour the face but offers a poignant lesson for brands when walking the fine line of appreciation and appropriation. Beauty industry watchdogs are surfacing and challenging beauty brands that have not been crediting or acknowledging the cultural origins of traditional tools.
The increased presence of Eastern traditions in Western markets poses a responsibility for brands and creators to compose themselves with respect to the origins. While historic cultural practices should absolutely be celebrated, marketers should consult the origin’s communities and engage culturally relevant creators who are of the same background when considering any promotional activity.
2. Vintage 3D Printing
We’re seeing a blowback against rampant consumerism in multiple places with vintage and retro gear - clothing, homewares, record players and vinyl and even bicycles - becoming a macro trend. We get into hyper-passion territory when we look at the application of 3D printing to this.
People place a high value on vintage, quality materials and seek to recreate the high-quality processes of decades gone by. While production of much of this stuff ceased in the 70s and 80s, making repairs difficult, 3D printing is the solution. Now, Makers are emerging at the other end of the technical spectrum. Maker Nicam is just one example, who has found a small but growing market with vintage bicycle enthusiasts who need componentry for their bike which has been out of production.
The lesson for brands? Don’t be afraid to allow your customers in. Consider involving them in the process, giving them greater exposure to the way things are made. Demonstrate the care and craft that goes into making your products or delivering your services.
3. Bougie Analog
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and with the increasing digi-fication of our lives, there is a movement away from it, back to the more ‘real’ domain of analog.
For one hyper-passionate community, music created in ones and zeroes doesn’t compare to the tactility of manipulating electrical current to produce sound. Vintage analog music equipment has been so popular that big music brands such as Roland have now started reproducing equipment that had been out of production for almost 40 years, driving up prices of original vintage analog music gear for sums well above US$10,000. Case in point is Tone Tweakers which offers 15-pages of mint condition analog products where fans need to prove their analog credentials before they can even view the price list.
In the race to digital adoption, some marketers may have lost sight of the value of facilitating real connections in the real world. The rise of bougie vintage is a timely reminder that tactile brand experiences are still so important, whether it’s at the gig, at the game, at home, or in retail.
Much like the passion for ‘real’ analog music, there’s an increasing value being placed on seeing our planet at its most ‘real’. This is driving huge growth in off-grid experiences, likely fuelled by climate anxiety that is encouraging us to connect with what wilderness we still have left.
Platforms like Riparide are exploiting a boom in interest in tiny houses, off-grid and away from intrusions of our cell phones and smartwatches, and some people are taking it further with #hardcorehiking. Think a 24-day self-sufficient traverse of the Tasmanian Wilderness, carrying almost a month’s worth of food on your back, and sourcing natural water as and when you could along the way. It’s not for the faint of heart. It requires lengthy planning, hours of research and conversations with other hardcore hikers.
The implication here for marketers is that consumers expect brands to do their bit for the planet. Environmental action is no longer just about the government, corporates have the power, the ideas, and have the resources to deliver it.
In the first three months of 2021, Padel - the little cousin of tennis popular in European countries - suddenly saw a massive uptick in search volume. Search volume in Australia doubled in the first quarter of this year (below) and it’s popularity has continued to rise thanks to the endorsement of the likes of Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Mo Salah. From a base of 3,000 players in the UK a few years ago, various countries across the globe are now seeing growth at 10x rates.
One thing driving this might be Netflix. Huh? Drive to Survive, the spectacularly popular Formula 1 series, now in its third season, quite prominently features Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz playing padel on his off days. We’ve seen this before - where interest in chess went through the roof thanks to the immensely popular series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, which saw a quintupling of growth rates, leading to many retailers struggling to meet demand.
No paid marketing will ever be as effective as genuinely weaving a brand into the fabric of culture. Celebrity culture and the associated commercialisation may be reaching saturation point but authentic involvement in culture, amplified by PR, can drive incredibly powerful outcomes for brands.