Looking at the embrace of analog, what’s driving it, the ways in which it’s manifesting in culture and what it means for marketers

As part of the SXSWi festival in Austin, our own Ann Mack, director of trendspotting, spoke today on the panel “Embracing Analog: Why Physical Is Hot,” which examined the increasing embrace of analog, what’s driving it, the ways in which it’s manifesting in culture and what it means for marketers. She was joined by Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion and correspondent for Wired, and marketing authority Paul Woolmington, co-founder of Naked Communications Americas.

As we spend ever more time in the digital world, what’s becoming increasingly valued is the time we do not spend in front of a screen—the time we spend with real people and real things. It’s not that we’re abandoning digital—far from it. But as we buy more apps, e-books and downloads, and as digital screens become our default interface with the world, we seem to increasingly seek out physical objects and experiences.

A recent U.S. survey we conducted using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, found that people tend to utilize digital tech for its ease, speed, convenience and cost. But the more we embrace the format, the more we miss the emotional qualities it has a hard time replicating. Two-thirds of respondents said they sometimes feel nostalgic for things from the past, like vinyl records and photo albums, and 61 percent said they have a greater appreciation for things that aren’t used as much as they used to be, like record players and film cameras.

This trend is playing out on the SXSW trade show floor, with a number of companies here focused on bridging the digital/physical divide. The Vinyl Recorder, by German firm Tangible Formats, allows independent artists to take any digital piece of content and convert it into a vinyl record at an affordable price. And Guppy, a social media photo kiosk and Instagram print station, is showcasing its product.

Embracing Analog is a digital-era countertrend, a response to the evaporation of so many physical things into intangible formats. For consumers, these responses coexist with their embrace of tech-centric lifestyles; indeed, the stronger that embrace, the stronger the urge to experience the polar opposite.

For more, download the full report here.