Akin to the recent rise of retro-everything and the nostalgic yearnings for decades past—from Gen Z’s infatuation with the 90’s (let’s be honest, it’s teetering on obsession), to nostalgia-inspired product launches, and retro rebranding trends—analog mediums are having a big moment. And while some may simply see it as a blatant rebellion against the “always-on” demands that define today’s tech experiences, there are deeper behavioral motivations at the heart of this movement that can serve as insightful inspiration for brands.
If you want to see recent examples of this analog renaissance in action, look no further than bookstores—they’re booming. Because aside from seeking the joys of a wholly physical experience, people are looking for a community where they can get real recommendations from real people, not algorithms. Point-and-shoot digital cameras, like the one you carried with your flip phone circa early 2000’s, are also seeing a resurgence despite the increasing advancements to mobile phone cameras (who knew we’d have this kind of cinematography at our fingertips). Add that to the multitude of other analog mediums (see this and this) that have regained mainstream popularity over the last few years and it’s clear: analog still has its place.
So, why this return to analog? There are a few reasons. One attributes it to being part of the larger slow-technology movement, which is intended to curb some of the damaging effects of excessive technologies by focusing on consciously changing our interactions with tech to become more mindful and deliberate. Another reason is that it contributes to our search for meaning in our experiences; engaging with analog technology creates space to engage more thoughtfully in relation to our values, since it’s less centered on efficiency and speed. Lastly, we see this return to analog as a play for greater choice and control—a way to combat our dependence on technology and sense of powerlessness amidst the whims of Big Tech.
With all of that in mind, we’re not saying you need to forgo your digital marketing investments, rebrand to a retro look, or introduce a nostalgic product. In fact, what will be most valuable is capitalizing on the behavioral themes underscoring this movement, such as finding ways to ensure everything your brand does is done with intention. This can be achieved by reevaluating how you make your customers’ lives more meaningful, so that thoughtlessly pushing increased consumerism and speedy consumption isn’t your sole means of achieving growth. And by remembering that although we live in a digital age, people still place a lot of value on physical experiences, choice, control, and authentic connection.
Without going analog, you can create a strategy that taps into the underlying dynamics motivating consumers to seek a reprieve from the meaningless torrent of today’s tech and be a brand consumers continue to turn to, even when they’ve reached maximum digital fatigue.