.Volume 2 Episode 1.
.A New Hope:.
.Community & Occasions.
Before we dive in we want you to take a moment to think about 2022
What immediately comes to mind?
How do you feel?
It’s safe to say we’re all thinking, feeling and living the Cost of Living Crisis. It’s impacting all aspects of our lives, from soaring energy bills to choosing where we shop. Or even just deciding the best time to put on a wash (FYI the best time is 10pm apparently!).
So here at One Minute To Midnight it feels like the right time to roll out volume two of our Human Futures work. This involves connecting and sharing human stories over the next 5 months.
In this series we’ll explore people’s experiences during this time asking what we, and brands, can do to collectively work towards a better future. In episode one we look not only at the overriding emotions defining our experience of this winter, but where people are looking for hope and finding joy.
What emotions are defining the cost of living crisis?
How are we finding moments of joy?
Who is winning
in the trade off?
.What emotions are. .defining the.Cost of. .Living Crisis?.
"I'm scared, everything is so uncertain... how do I plan for that?"
.Fear and loathing. .in Westminster.
To say 2022 has been tumultuous is an understatement. Starting with the war in Ukraine moving through to the death of Queen Elizabeth II and now we’re witnessing a revolving door at 10 Downing Street. It’s been a perfect storm of events that have combined to create an environment of stress & anxiety. So you won’t be surprised to hear that from our conversations anger, and uncertainty came to the fore. You may be feeling these too.
It’s no shock that we also heard a lot about a lack of trust in the government. But trust issues now extend to brands. Many have given up searching for help from brands and companies and instead are taking matters into their own hands (more on this later).
This erosion of trust in brands stems from a few things. This includes the sense that companies aren’t supporting those most in need, that they are still hiding behind excuses for poor service or price rises and that the advertising is disconnected from people’s emotional state.
For many we spoke to, brands feel too focused on their own gains and profits instead of doing things for the good of others & appreciating who their customers are. A sense of unity is missing, with brand platitudes taking the place of tangible action, leaving people feeling alone and powerless.
.Let's talk guilt.
Across the socio-economic spectrum people are second guessing their actions.
Anger and uncertainty are not unsurprising emotions to us. What stands out, though, is people feeling a sense of guilt. And whilst there’s a share of these collective emotions, people’s experiences with each are very different.
Guilt is showing itself in many forms and can be a moral battle. It’s also present across the spectrum of situations people are currently in. Should we feel guilty for treating ourselves to a holiday while others are struggling to pay their bills? Or for those of us struggling to pay bills, should we feel guilty for not being able to take our kids to the trampoline park? Across the socio-economic spectrum people are second guessing their actions.
Guilt seems to come from a desire to still enjoy life. The joy of a holiday, or the joy of seeing our kids have fun. But a sense of injustice and witnessing others struggle has created a wall for many. It’s a conflict of people’s values (hedonism vs security, achievement vs universalism), an internal battle many are facing when trying to decide how to live in the immediate future.
.play voice clip.
.How are we finding. .moments of joy?.
Moments that were previously habitual or regular, are now taking on greater importance as we re-evaluate what brings us happiness.
.Out with the new normal..In with the new special..
The need for joy is undeniable. It’s a fundamental part of what makes us happy. But under financial strain, a messy government and lessening trust in brands how can it still be lived?
What’s appearing is joy redefined. It’s a result of a combination of emotions and financial challenges. Moments that were previously habitual or regular, are now taking on greater importance as we re-evaluate what brings us happiness.
.play voice clip.
It’s also a continuation of shifting importances that we witnessed during our COVID work. Connecting with loved ones is now more important than luxury or unique experiences. In the decision making process, people are hunting for creative ways that retain rich moments of connection. Just in ways that are more affordable and more accessible.
Not everyone is cutting back at all costs or in the most logical places. Instead we’re often reframing choices to have joyous moments in life. This helps circumnavigate potential feelings of guilt.
Community groups are providing greater functional and emotional value. The collective experience is delivering a much needed sense of security, that people are in it together and can rely on one another to get through. Indeed, if trust in brands and government is dissipating, then it is growing in local connections.
And it’s not just close circles. As opposed to just focusing on family and friends, people are playing an active role in local communities. This includes donating to local food banks, shopping at independent stores instead of big brands or even just helping those less fortunate. People are working to make a real change.
Much comes back to a lack of trust in traditional institutions of power. With a perceived power vacuum people are empowering themselves to make a difference. And though it may have been initially caused by necessity, people are finding joy in it. There’s a clear emotional reward in being able to contribute to a greater good.
People aren’t just asking themselves can I financially afford this, but can I emotionally afford to live without this?
Many definitions of this crisis are focusing solely on how much something costs. But we saw that it is much more about what a brand or product is providing. What it’s adding to lives. As with changing emotions we are witnessing changing definitions of value. People aren’t just asking themselves can I financially afford this, but can I emotionally afford to live without this?
.play voice clip.
.in the trade off?.
.Good news for streaming services.
In another parallel with our Human Futures COVID research physical proximity is highly valued. So while the Cinema may be a fun experience, we’re seeing spending time together a more important factor. So a film at home is a sensible economising option. That’s potentially good news for the likes of Amazon Prime, Netflix and Disney+ and may help explain how Netflix has stabilised subscriber numbers.
And those services with a strong kids and sports offering look best set this winter. The cost efficient connection it creates between families and the moment for quality time is crucial. In the case of kids, parents make a compromise somewhere else because streaming services create joy for everyone. And for sports it’s an opportunity to indulge in a passion that is both intrinsically rewarding as well as providing a connection with friends and family.
"We pay for him to have Sky because he's loves football, that's his company"
.What about gaming and music?.
Twitch’s growth during COVID was impressive. But that may not be the case for would be streamers on the service this time around. For Sam Spotify is the clear winner. Even though it costs them more each month than an individual Twitch streamer, what Spotify provides is indispensable. Not only does Spotify deliver a greater scope of the platform, but the ability to create and share playlists with friends delivers emotionally. It’s a powerful form of escapism and connection.
That’s not to say Twitch doesn’t have similar emotional potential; just not for Sam. In fact, it shows the importance of communicating the emotional benefits that resonate with the values defining this time.
.what does it all mean?.
People are seeking permission to live joy & want brands to help enable them to do this fully.
Though it’s a time of financial strain there are important elements of life that people don’t seem to want to compromise on. How can brands help them to connect, build on community, ease uncertainty and guilt and experience joy?
And with all that in mind, here’s some thought starters to spark some ideas and inspiration:
.Want to know more about. .what it means for your brand?.
When trust with brands feels to be dwindling, what can you do to resurrect this?
What’s the emotional value your brand provides that would make people continue to engage with you?
How can you help harness more joy and connect deeply with your audiences?
On a personal note, what are you doing for joy? Anything we’ve missed?
.Or perhaps you’ve questions you’d like. .us to cover in the next four months?.
.Feel free to send us an email to.get in touch & find out more!
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