When the weather gets grim, I like nothing more than a rootle around my flat and a good old-fashioned clear out. As a girl who initially moved to London with two suitcases; I’m often astounded by the sheer quantity of ‘stuff’ I’ve acquired over the last five years. Apparently, I am not alone.
According to the Future Foundation, 60% of Brits claim to have tried to reduce the amount of clutter in their home over the past year. As a society, our relationship with material goods is morphing into something altogether new. We have gone from being obsessed with possessions, and collections of carefully curated curiosities, to living in a world where the experience has overtaken the thing; and space is at a premium. Put bluntly, we’re through with the material good.
This recipe started with a base of entertainment streaming; replacing DVDs, CDs and books with the world’s biggest libraries of content housed on devices the size of a single magazine. We stirred in a smidge of recession, where ticket sales for real-world events such as concerts, festivals and comedy shows flourished (source: The Guardian) because consumers chose to live rather than possess. Finally, the piece de resistance came in the shape of rising house prices and rental costs. Space is now a luxury, rather than a given.
It is not just the bulky that we are getting rid of. Earlier this year, IKEA launched their range of wireless charging pads, which can be fitted into a variety of household surfaces. These eliminate the need for a multitude of phone cables, demonstrating that everything can be simplified. Look also to the adoption of wireless speakers, printers and even headphones. As William Morris famously said:
“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Not convinced? Check out the #Minsgame on Instagram, a month long challenge to get rid of excess stuff:
Source: Orsoshesaid, Instagram, 2015
The concept of owning is also less attractive when every service can be shared. Need a car? Rent one for a couple of hours through Zipcar. Fancy a pet? Visit Borrow My Doggy to find a canine companion to share. Need some specialist tech but can’t afford it? Speak to someone on Kitsplit about using theirs.
Clutter is not solely physical, but increasingly true in the digital space. Social aggregation tools are increasing in popularity; Android’s Lollipop and Alternion are just two examples of these. We are constantly hounded by push messaging that is above and beyond our control.
So what does this mean for us and our communications? There are multiple implications for the modern brand.
- What does your product offer which makes it worthy of our limited space? Multi-functional products, covetable objects and personalised items will be the hardest for us to throw in the bin.
- How can you provide a brief, personal and ultimately digestible experience for your consumer? Whether through an event, in-store touch point or in the digital world, we have less and less time to wade through the push messaging thrown at us. Short, sweet and succinct are key words here.
- We may throw out, but this doesn’t mean we want to waste. Minimalism is about cherry-picking the things which enrich and service our lifestyles and sticking to these. There is a growing appreciation of the finite nature of resources and this applies to our own headspace as well as physical properties.
Targeting is the bread and butter of our industry. However, in a world where we’re increasingly selective about what we want to own, experience and pay attention to, we must tightly scrutinise who we aim our communications at and indeed, what we actually have to say in the first place.