Europeans are famed for their love of the good life, but the influence of global commerce and always-on tech toys and tools (plus the need to improve productivity in the wake of the eurozone crisis), has compromised their easygoing pace. While connectivity is key for harried midlifers and three-screen teens alike, they can have too much of a good thing. In February 2012, we identified a key shift in the US: More consumers were opting to go offline, Pulling the Plug to find a little quiet. Now we see a host of European services helping consumers to recharge by switching off.
On technology holidays, remote Scottish isles and Alpine resorts encourage (or even force) guests to keep their gadgets switched off for the entirety of their stay. At Volkswagen HQ in Germany, management switches off the BlackBerry email servers at the end of the working day so that workers can have a silent night. Other brands are using lack of connectivity as a selling point to consumers. In Amsterdam, Kit Kat has launched Free No-WiFi zones, which block WiFi signals within a 5-metre radius so that consumers can enjoy a rest from constant connectivity. Even retailers are hoping to offer shoppers some serenity. The No Noise concept store, open at UK department store Selfridges during January and February, strips branding and logos off famous products from Levis 501s to Heinz ketchup, also offering “no-brand” products from minimalist fashion labels like Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander and Acne. The no-Muzak space also includes meditation services and a Silence Room for an escape from the bustle of shopping.
Consumers asked for anywhere-anytime tech, and they got it. Now, overwhelmed and overstimulated, many are beginning to recognize that there’s such a thing as too much connectivity. The response is a conscious movement toward activities that emphasize undivided attention, community, balance and real-life experience. Marketers, take note: While your brand can offer more features and more choices to consumers, sometimes all they want is a stress-free and straightforward shopping trip, without all the noise.
By Iconoculture |
January 30, 2013 – 6:42 am
by Gwyneth Holland