April 23, 2019 / Experience

Smoke and Mirrors

in pursuit of magic

Perception is everything.

Intrigue around mysticism and pagan spirituality have become mainstream. While sceptics may query crystals and sage, brands are quickly adopting the trend, as this new age niche has become holistic consumerism, going hand in hand with the meditation and floriculture, which has gained much popularity.

The beauty and wellbeing markets are bridging the gap between consumerism and spirituality. The recent obsession with the esoteric is founded by consumers searching for something benevolent and meaningful. The beauty brand, Glossier, released the Haloscope in the shades “Topaz”, “Quartz” and “Moonstone”, all eponymous of the crystals they’re infused with.

While Herbivore’s Pineapple and Gemstone mask is infused with Brazilian white tourmaline that promises to “illuminate and energise” your complexion. Walk into any Urban Outfitters and you can buy perfume “supercharged with sacred stones to channel inner strength, balance and luck. These are just a few of the many brands looking to fill the gap left in the absence of religion.

Consumers are drawn to mystic beauty because they’re seeking a connection with something benevolent, like an external source of support that may help them cope with the constant hustle we find ourselves in, trying to keep up with modern life.

Tamara Driessen, healer and author of The Crystal Code.

Magicians, illusionists and mediums have been manipulating perception for centuries. Whether a tactic in a show or a form of providing comfort for grieving families, consumers are fascinated with the unknown.

The Smoke & Mirrors exhibit at the Wellcome Collection explores the astonishing feats of trickery that still captivate audiences around the world. The gap between reality and perception allows illusionists to charm audiences, and explore the psychological.

Similarities between this control of perception could be drawn to modern platforms like Instagram, where consumers are manipulated by the perception of a person’s life. Lucrative for both brands and influencers, they have capitalised on consumers desire for connection and finding meaning in their lives. It’s a modern malaise, as we are taught to buy what we see on the screen rather than looking introspectively to find healing and real-life connection.

In the coming years, there will most likely be a reaction to the intrusive nature of Instagram, however, predicting whether consumers will invest more deeply in searching for the lifestyle portrayed on Instagram or completely abandon it remains to be seen.

Delving into the mystical, magical and unexpected, this resurgence is captivating audiences who have swayed from the religious unknown, to now explore the curious depth of what cannot be explained and the gap between what we see and reality.

Key Insights

  • Brands need to make sure they are authentic in their portrayal of the magical. The new generation of seamless omnichannel consumers will see through contrived attempts to manipulate consumers online.
  • Brands need to balance being Open, Honest and Transparent, while also satisfying the need for spirituality when delving into the mystical and magical.
  • Consumers are looking for meaningful connections with brands and sources of guidance. Brands who genuinely attempt to help positively impact individuals will create loyal and trusted consumer bases.
  • Creating community is essential in brands staying relevant. A united perception within a group will help brands have longevity and sustained relevance.

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