Consumer Trends – Let’s Play

In our previous two articles for Asia Research, we introduced Join the Dots’ framework of understanding consumers using the trends and happiness theory. As humans, we have a deep-seated desire to satisfy basic drivers to increase our overall happiness in life. Our five happiness drivers are: Positive Emotions, Engagement, Meaning, Relationships, and Achievements.

Understanding that happiness is culturally contextual allows room to understand the degree to which external forces impact and shape consumers’ behaviours and needs. More importantly, while basic happiness drivers may be unwavering and manifest in multiple facets in different lives, consumer trends are not static. Trends fade and new ones arise as macro forces fluctuate and hedonic adaptation continually evolves. Trends themselves can take on new dimensions, reflecting the degree of consumer needs and desires. No trend is exclusive, as a trend can reflect and encompass several drivers. In this article, we will look at another trend, ‘Let’s Play’.

In this fast-paced, hyper-connected world, the rapid rate of change means that people are caught in a constant state of flux, needing to capture every minute to maximise the finite time they have on hand, driving the need for speed and convenience. This idea of ‘Precious Time’, is not a trend but an underlying ubiquitous need, and yet the rapid pace of development and change has encouraged consumers to reconsider what they are looking for and what matters to them. ‘Cramming’ has given consumers more opportunity to explore and to do more with the extra time they have been granted. This ‘extra’ time not only makes it a precious commodity but also acts as a way for consumers to slow down the rapid pace of life and relish the everyday moments. These moments allows us to pause, to reconnect with people around us, and to enjoy our lives.

Instant gratification and ultra-convenience give consumers more chances to carve out time to focus on the things that matter most. Success is one part hard work, and one part mindfulness. Re-focusing on the self in striving a balance between ambition and relaxation allows us to relish every precious moment, achieving a sense of stasis. The blurry distinction between work and leisure continues to impinge on our everyday lives. Research suggests that we should be spending less time working and more time playing.

A study showed that Singaporeans, followed by the Japanese and Malaysians, find it difficult to let go of work during their holidays. Greater connectivity, enabled by technology, has made it increasingly difficult for employees to ‘get away’ from the office. Research has shown that time away is important for achieving balance and, moreover, that play destresses us, reconnects us with others, and restores our optimism.

Ikea’s Play Report 2015 revealed how digital media impacts family life and how design can help adults and children play more. The study showed that while time away is crucial for the individual, adults also feel guilty about not being able to spend quality time with their children. Ikea launched a mobile app in conjunction with Dreamworks, which included films to teach children about the world. Similarly, a three-minute film shot in Taipei shone light on the precious moments between parents and children that are normally lost to long working hours. In this film, Lego blocks became a bridge for sending messages to parents about how much time has been lost. Last year, Sentosa, Singapore launched The Fun Movement campaign to promote the island’s ‘State of Fun’ image, offering a reward for everyday heroes who give their own time of fun and enjoyment to bring meaning and purpose to the lives of others.

Hence, our consumer trends team has mapped a rising hedonic factor: Fun. Re-dontdontevaluating our lives allows us to become aware of things around us, and what it is that makes us happy. The pressures of an ultra-convenient, fast-paced life, and a gloomy macro-environment, collectively stop consumers in their tracks as we see a renewed focus on fun and enjoyment. Increasingly consumers are focusing on living well, making time for those who matter most, and getting the most from life and brands in the hope of achieving a sense of perfect balance.