Leave Consumers Alone!?

Our culture is used to sharing everything about our lives: from the mundane photo of our lunch, to our kid’s first day of school to showing off our amazing Caribbean vacation. I’m no exception (except for the kids part). My friends are quite accustomed to seeing a flight path of my next destination when I’m traveling for work.

You’d think that would indicate a more social society. A group of people who enjoy being with others and seek these same social experiences in real life. Perhaps for some, but silence and alone time are actually becoming a premium for others. And some brands are taking advantage of it.

If putting on headphones without any music playing as a “do not disturb” sign isn’t enough, Etihad Airways has started a “neighbor-free program” that allows passengers to bid on up to three empty seats next to the ones they book.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “shoppers want a certain level of privacy in a store, and they want to have control over that privacy.” A new 24-hour convenience store in Shanghai is answering that by eliminating pushy salespeople. In fact, there are no people at all, as you use an app to get access, purchase and pay.

This decline in interpersonal communication could very well be why Millennials are more likely to be single than their older counterparts. This large solo audience is one brands should take notice of as more services are being created for them; smaller serving sizes, tiny houses, even services for solo-marriage.

The fact that we have a society who prefers screens to faces is a bit frightening to a Gen X-er like myself. The way I see it, brands have a choice to make. They can either embrace this shift and build their business around it as the ones mentioned above are doing or they can fight it by doing things that bring people together in real life. Your brand values will tell you which path to take. 

By Andy Jorishie, EVP, Ideas & innovation at Bright Red/TBWA