.Volume 2 Episode 3.
.the New Year….
Remember Christmas? Yep, it feels like a long time ago to us too (we know time flies - it was only a couple of weeks ago). In this latest edition of Human Futures we’ve gone back to the festive period, giving us an opportunity to reflect and ask some meaningful questions...
What were our expectations in the lead up to Christmas?
How did our experiences match up to these expectations?
Read on to find out how it went down, and what the future may hold…
And looking ahead, what is our outlook for 2023?
Even with the cutbacks and sacrifices, there was an air of determination - to do the things that make Christmas feel special to us.
Through a mixture of creative thinking and a hustler’s mentality, we found ways to prepare ourselves and our loved ones for the Christmas challenge to come. Controlling what we can and letting go of what we can’t.
.Putting in the hours.
One way in which some of us tried to wrestle back control of our Christmas fate was by taking on some additional work (where available). Whether through an extra part-time job or an increase in our current working hours.
Knowing she had to cut back on spending in general, Julia worked overtime from October to create extra wiggle room and allow for a more indulgent December. Persevering through the longer days and the extra workload - to be able to add the details that make Christmas a more luxurious experience for her and her family.
.The Saving Strategy.
Another dimension to ‘controlling what we can control’ that emerged was having a plan around saving. Never an easy endeavour - particularly during challenging times.
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Lora used the Saving Spaces features on the Starling bank app to create a saving goal for Christmas - allowing her to keep her Christmas fund separate from the day to day purchases and maintain some fiscal discipline.
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As we approached the festive season in 2022, for many of us the memories of Covid Christmas past still dominated our thoughts. Wondering how we were going to hold our celebrations this time around against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.
This was our first chance to have a ‘proper’ Christmas, and the collective mood that emerged was one of defiance. Despite our current set of challenges, we were going to make Christmas a success – in our own individual ways.
Ever increasing costs have meant we’re more mindful of how we approach gifting.
.The Gift-Giver Perspective.
.The Gift-Receiver Perspective.
With money being tighter we were more conscious than ever about what we were spending. Ensuring our hard-earned cash was going towards something meaningful that would be loved by the receiver.
Conversely, from the viewpoint of the gift-receiver, this new attitude towards gifting has allowed us to demonstrate greater empathy - and truly appreciate the thoughtfulness and effort shown from our loved ones.
.Quality not quantity.
This isn’t necessarily about spending less but gifting with greater intent. We’re happy to spend money, but we don’t want to waste money.
For some of us, this meant buying one big present that we know the recipient will love. Although the same amount of money is being spent, for some this is an unfamiliar mindset which initially left many of us anxious we weren’t giving enough. There’s a certain willpower to stop overspending…
Whilst for others it meant going down the pre-loved route and turning to places like eBay and Vinted to purchase gifts - with nearly half of us willing to buy pre-owned gifts in the run up to last Christmas, according to used goods powerhouse Amazon warehouse.
This allowed us to get the high price tag presents at a fraction of the cost. This might sound like a no-brainer to many, but for some of our gifters there was an initial stigma attached to gifting secondhand presents. However, after experiencing the high of scoring a top bargain and watching the joy spread across the recipient’s face, it’s safe to say some are more open to the idea of pre-loved being a more regular thing.
.And.we.can’t.talk.about. .Christmas.without. .mentioning.Christmas.ads…
The TV ads that connected most powerfully were the ones that tapped into how we’re feeling right now and connected with the areas of life we prioritised.
Lidl Bear… had a fun and lighthearted tone but the underlying message matched our desire for family, connection, and community.
The magic of this ad lies in the heartwarming story of Lidl bear becoming an overnight sensation with a rock n roll lifestyle, but who ultimately craves the connection and love of his family. But the real power is in promoting Lidl Bear’s Toy Bank.
In Episode 1 we saw people turning to the community for functional and emotional support but also the joy of contributing to the local community and feeling empowered to make a difference.
Lidl has tapped into this feeling and created ways to make it easier to donate and support the community. Perhaps even more powerful is the fact that, unlike his peer Kevin the Carrot, Lidl Bear is not for sale - instead Lidl are asking everyone who can spare a bear to give to those in need…
.ASDA and Buddy the Elf.
ASDA and Buddy the Elf… this tapped into the mindset of making Christmas fun and magical - a playful and nostalgic escapism to Christmases past.
The innocence of this ad is what made it stand out. Its child-like tone was nostalgic for adults and great fun for kids.
In Episode 2 we discovered that escapism was a big part of how we’re finding joy. This included those shared experiences we can have with our loved ones and children. This ad taps into that feeling perfectly, by creating a space of joy that can be appreciated by everybody in the family. It also celebrates the deals that the supermarket offers, making it not overly indulgent.
In comparison M&S seemed to have gone for full blown indulgence… but somewhat brushing over the current struggles.
There was a determination to make this Christmas special. Providing an escape from rising prices and daily struggles… however as we’ve already seen this isn’t necessarily easy to achieve and requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
The M&S Christmas ad channels the luxury and indulgence we are hoping for but fails to communicate the effort involved to get there. Looking through the eyes of M&S, maybe this was done with a degree of intention. Giving viewers a brief reprieve from the added pressure around Christmas time. Or maybe they just missed. What are your thoughts on the contrasting approaches?
.what does it all mean?.
As we transition from the infant stages of the new year, it’s important that we think about how we can help people harness their new-found optimism. Fuelling personal growth and fulfilment right throughout the entire year.
Brands that are able to do this with a sense of authenticity and realness will earn the long-lasting trust of their audience.
Part of our role is to open up new conversations - so here are some starters to get us all talking:
What are some of the goals your brand has this year?
How can your brand support people in their efforts to achieve their goals this year?
How can your brand align with changing perceptions around pre-loved goods?
Once we know the answers to these key questions, we can then ask ourselves
.How can we help you achieve those goals?.
.Feel free to send us an email. .to.get in touch & find out more!
.Looking ahead to 2023….
We may have entered a new year, but the same anxieties continue on and some new ones appear.
Christmas was a chance to put a pause on thinking about the cost of living… but as the decorations were taken down and put away, the reality of everyday life soon reared its head once more.
.Bills and inflation. .continue to rise.
The relief from worrying about bills was short lived, as many of us still have to battle to pay a reasonable amount for our energy and the price of everyday essentials (and luxuries) continue to rise.
.No more. .wiggle room.
And ultimately the Christmas spending means we’ve cut down on our wiggle room, meaning a return to stringent budgets and cutting back…Last year was already a challenge but with no sign of things letting up - there’s a real concern about where the money’s going to come from.
Strikes around the country don’t show any signs of stopping, adding to the stress on our shoulders. There are logistical challenges and extra travel expenses - having to get a taxi instead of public transport. But also a larger sense of chaos and unrest.
Which means we’re saying goodbye to traditional resolutions…
Life feels hard enough without the added pressure of New Year's resolutions to stick to, and the pang of guilt we then feel when we don’t quite stick to them.
Instead we’re more focused on goals and we’re using three principles to avoid putting too much pressure on ourselves…
Things that are doable without expending more money or more energy
Rather than being overly ambitious with targets, we’re choosing smaller goals around our lifestyle.
Working towards something that we’ve already set our minds to…
We’re always working towards our long term goals despite the recent interruptions.
Putting effort into something we have an emotional connection to…
We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves to find new passions, but instead truly invest in what we’ve always been passionate about
E.g. More focus on budgeting, or staying healthy instead of actively losing weight
For Lora, it means getting on the property ladder, which she’s been trying to do with her husband for the past year already
For Ezra, it’s his music…
“I wasn’t thinking about commissions, I was just thinking about stuff that I really enjoy doing. And I really like listening to music - especially on Spotify”
And hello to new-found optimism…
Despite everything, we’re starting to get excited for what’s coming up for us in 2023. We’ve learned from the trials of the previous year, and want to create an atmosphere of positivity in how we live.
.Taking the pressure off.
We’ve learned from the past year to focus on the things that we’re able to control and put aside what’s outside of our influence - effectively taking more of a lead role in our lives.
.A year of giving.
We’re looking forward to helping others as much as we can through charity and acts of kindness, especially within our local communities.
.Getting back to travel.
After years of restrictions - both health and cost related - we’re excited to get travelling again and broaden our horizons, with summer plans already made.
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