April 16, 2019 / Consumer

The Religion Replacement

Religion has seen a major decline in the past 50 years, with people identifying as Christian falling an estimated 40%. While on a global perspective Islamic beliefs are growing, in the western world, religious views are seemingly feeling out-dated and unaligned with modern views.

We look to explore how this change in consumer beliefs will affect brand relationships, how brands can satisfy the need for epistemological study and how this will directly affect their retail environment.

As societies evolve, the meaning, content and power of religion changes.

Yet our society is still underpinned by the beliefs and laws driven by centuries of religious tradition. Ironically, the country shows no sign of moral decline with falling crime rates, high donations to charity, and low rates of corruption.

Religion provides a few key values that are now finding alternative routes; guidance, community and attitudes towards death are all aspects traditionally sought by religion. With no definitive example to follow, people are exploring new kinds of spirituality and looking for fulfilment in new places.

Brands are looking to create new forms of community, based on interests and personality. Harry Potter tribes around the world are connected by the love for mysticism, which will soon enter the gaming world with an AR app. Once again engaging fans around the world, the Harry Potter franchise has continually united this community, assisted by burgeoning technology.

Fitness ‘cults’ like Psycle and Barry’s have also harnessed the power of religious language, recontextualising it to form a new type of community. Appropriating phrases like ‘Sunday service’ creates a new meaning in a structured setting.

Wellness and Eastern spirituality have brought a new form of guidance, as meditation and gurus help the western world find deeper meaning and balance. Moreover, the rise of the influencer has led to online personalities giving advice for young consumers seeking direction – whether that be trends, fashion or just general life advice, Instagram has become a go-to for younger generations.

While death still remains a mystery, it has become less of a taboo topic with artists and commentators looking towards the most emotional aspects. Podcasts like Griefcast, TV shows like The Haunting of Hill House, as well as musicians like Billie Eilish, look towards the psychological and emotional facets surrounding death.

The religion rebellion has roused intrigue into spirituality, psychology and philosophy have spurred many artistic inquiries. The Psychology of Magic at the Wellcome Collection looks at our take on perception, where the Barbican’s More Than AI, explores human nature and AI, what gives us more than just a connection? An age-old question, which is yet to be sufficiently answered, will continue to rouse investigation and provides a new opportunity for brands to connect with consumers on a more human level.

Key Insights

  • Consumers looking for alternatives for guidance provide an opportunity for brands to intervene and create loyal communities.
  • Insight into taboo topics like death will spur intrigue and discussion – brands should look to delve into meaningful conversation when engaging consumers.  
  • Evolving along with consumers is key to expanding and retain existing consumers. Look for areas in life that consumers might be struggling with or want navigation in.

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