March 22, 2013

Data point: Where physical goods win out over digital

Posted by: in North America

Last week at a SXSW panel, our director of trendspotting, Ann Mack, outlined why, in a digital era, more people are embracing analog objects. As we noted last week, nostalgia is a key driver of this trend. Another is the appealing attributes of physical items that set them apart from digital products: Among other things, we can hold and smell physical goods, they can be keepsakes or collectibles, they can be proudly displayed or nicely wrapped. For instance, physical books and magazines appeal to our senses, according to a survey we conducted in February using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool.

The youngest generation surveyed is the most likely to appreciate these qualities, with 78 percent of American Millennials saying they like the smell and feel of books (10 points more than Gen Xers) and 58 percent feeling the same way about magazines. Millennials (75 percent) share with other generations an appreciation for the longevity and endurance of physical objects.

As consumers seek out things to have and to hold, brands can amp up the physical and tactile qualities of their products—such as texture or smell—or create limited editions that serve as artifacts and keepsakes. For more on what’s driving this trend, how it’s manifesting in the culture and what it means for marketers, download our report “Embracing Analog: Why Physical Is Hot” here.

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