What’s old is new again

For the past few weeks, we’ve been settling into the reality that 2022 is going to bring a sea change for us as business leaders. Out of every crisis in history, moments of great reinvention and change were born. And given history’s examples, the pandemic more than qualified as a trend-altering crisis.

As we explore the last three trends over the next several columns, we’re going to examine some of the overarching themes that are emerging as clear patterns. My goal is to get you thinking about how you can anticipate and leverage these trends to your advantage as you work to continue to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we dug into the power of looking for new ways to combine offerings, partners and deliverables. This week we’re going to focus on what makes perfect sense, given what we’ve all been through. The longing for simpler, better times. This look back in time with wistful fondness is nothing new. We’ve seen this particular trend many times before.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

The throwback to simpler times is often a trend we see after a season of turmoil. This trend was on the rise before the pandemic. Just try to buy a vinyl record album these days if you’d like to see this trend in action. But it was certainly accelerated by the lockdown and restriction of freedoms, virtual schooling, etc. But it goes beyond resurrecting old toys, hobbies or activities.

It’s also a desire to go back to our youth in other ways. There’s a playfulness and carefree attitude that comes along with this trend. This is the “stop taking life so seriously” trend. People are craving a less stressful existence, so we’re seeing a surge in adventure travel, bike sales and other active-lifestyle, more youthful activities and products.

This trend also shows up in people’s desire to get back to nature and protect the environment. We’re seeing an increase in demand for organic and locally grown foods, a drive for sustainable packaging and products, and a demand for corporate awareness about their carbon footprint.

How do we think about our work in relation to this trend? All three of these variations of the “good old days” theme can be useful as you think about talking to your customers and prospects.

From an advertising point of view, this might be a very smart time to talk about your brand and your values. The origin story of those values will have a throwback element to it. Weaving client testimonials about how you live those values would also reinforce the message in a tangible way.

Depending on who you serve and what you sell, you might also be able to lean into the “stop taking life so seriously” or the desire to play. If you can demonstrate how the work you do on your customers’ behalf can relieve your customers’ worry or help them carve out time for taking a vacation or having some type of adventure, that should land well right now.

This trend seems like a bit of a duh. Everyone is stressed and feeling like they have been adulting nonstop. They want things to be less complicated and more fun. Finding a way to convey that you understand those emotions and desires and can help them accomplish that goal should resonate well.

And don’t forget, your employees are experiencing this same trend. This might be helpful in your internal communications as well.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.