Girls with phones 300x3001 - Playing the game of life

If the Instant trend – explored in the last Network News – is all about immediacy and freeing up time for the things that we enjoy, what are we doing with all the time we are saving?

All over the developed world, people are leaving it later to achieve life’s major milestones. The average age of marriage has been creeping up, people are living with their parents well into their twenties and thirties, and the days of a job for life are long gone, with Millennials often having had multiple jobs (or even careers in some cases) by their fourth decade.

And this phenomenon of ‘kidulthood’ – or the delaying of big responsibilities until later in life – is something which is not only changing peoples’ lifestyles; it’s even been suggested that it is causing neurological changes in the brains of young people. Without responsibility, the systems in the brain which support novelty-seeking and exploration are active for much longer than previously, and adventurous behaviour is rewarded.

It’s certainly the case in the consumer world that people are seeking new experiences, new challenges and new sensations more so than ever. In our Global Consumer Trends 2016 report, we’ve named one of the key trends Play, of which one of the elements identified is the emergence of innovations which add new sensory elements to familiar settings. Bompass & Parr’s popular London installation Alcoholic Architecture, for example, allows visitors who find consuming alcohol in the traditional manner too conventional to breathe in their tipple through an alcoholic cloud.

But whilst many people are choosing to delay responsibility, those who have chosen to take adulthood by the horns are no less drawn into the Play trend. Adulthood often means busy lives, and the idea of childhood being a simpler, carefree time has a definite appeal for those who struggle to switch off. The result is that products, restaurants and bars offering a fully immersive experience that takes customers’ minds away from everyday concerns are drawing a response from increasing numbers of over-stressed adults. Secret dining clubs, TV drama-themed cocktail experiences and even classroom-themed restaurants all feature as people look for an escape from the real world.

The youthful flavour of the Play trend captures an interesting challenge for the drinks industry, which is seeing in many markets that the youth of today are actually drinking less and less compared to previous generations. And whilst it can only be a good thing that people continue to drink more sensibly and become more aware of the risks of excessive alcohol consumption, Play indicates – perhaps more than any other trend – the potential for businesses to be more creative and innovative than ever, offering a huge opportunity for the drinks industry to bridge the gap between grown-up responsibility and youthful excitement.

Find out more about Play and nine other key consumer trends in the Wine Intelligence Global Consumer Trends 2016 Report.

Author: Chris Giles