Astrology goes mainstream.
Millennials are turning to astrology with increasing fervor and sincerity, looking to the stars for guidance and inspiration for everything from dating to style. Appetite for celestial services has steadily grown since we charted the rise of all things zodiac three years ago. Now, in an effort to capitalize on the $2.2 billion mystical and psychic services market, mainstream brands and platforms are tailoring their products to appeal to the astrologically-minded consumer.
Astrology is gaining traction as a viable guide for life decisions ranging from where to go on vacation to who to live with. On May 4th, 2019 Brooklyn-based wellness studio HealHaus will host an astrocartography workshop. Astrologer Dara Dubinet defined astrocartography as “astrology of place,” and explained in a March 2019 Well + Good article that “any time we’re thinking of relocating, traveling, holding a retreat, or having a wedding, it’s good to know what energies the destination holds for us.” HealHaus’ website describes the practice as “a spiritual science” that offers insight into “your most likely locations for financial prosperity, loving relationships, optimal health, spiritual progress and more.” Bumble, meanwhile, added a zodiac feature in January 2019 that allows users to filter matches by sign, and The Guardian questioned in April 2019 whether selecting a roommate based on zodiac signs should be considered legal discrimination.
Fashion and beauty brands are building a market around the celestial consumer with zodiac-inspired collections. In April 2019, high-end fashion label Ganni released an astrology capsule with MatchesFashion.com, which was feted at an event with tarot readings, aura photography and crystals. “I’ve always loved the mystery of astrology and the idea that everything in the universe is connected to the sun, the moon and the stars,” said Ganni’s Creative Director Ditte Reffstrup. “We used this as our inspiration and chose an eclectic mix of cosmic prints.” In October, 2018, astrologer Susan Miller collaborated with beauty brand Fresh to create the limited-edition Zodiac Sugar Lip Treatment. The collection includes 12 flavors, one for each zodiac sign, and accompanying horoscopes.
Rather than turning away from this spirituality – which, it could be argued, has arisen in an effort to counteract an overly tech-ified world – tech giants are also joining the fray. In January 2019, Spotify released curated “Cosmic Playlists” customized for each zodiac sign. The streaming service partnered with astrologer Chani Nicholas to create the playlists, which are updated monthly. “You can use it for inspiration. You can use it for healing. You can use it for reflection. You can use it for your own personal morning dance party,” Nicholas said. “It’s a collection of theme songs for your month, astrologically speaking.”
Amazon introduced an astrology shopping feature in April 2019, which offers monthly horoscopes embellished with Prime shopping recommendations. Although the service has garnered scorn as an over-commercialization of the discipline, it points to the undeniable reach and marketability of astrology in mainstream culture.
Even venture capitalists are taking note, in an effort to cash in on the craze. In April 2019, astrology app Co-Star raised a $5.2 million seed round from the Silicon Valley venture capital firms Maveron and Aspect Ventures, as well as the New York-based 14W. Sanctuary, described as “Uber for astrological readings,” launched on March 20, 2019 with $1.5 million in seed funding.
“The services aspect of this business is bigger than anyone realizes,” said Ross Clark, Sanctuary’s CEO and co-founder. “Mystical services are a $2.2 billion dollar market. At one point in pitching this idea, someone said to me, ‘but astrology is such a niche market.’ And I said, ‘nearly 40 percent of American women read their horoscope at least once a month. That’s not a niche market. What other thing with that level of frequency would you describe as niche?’”
Clark believes millennials are hungry for a system that “helps them understand both themselves and a way of filtering and working through all the chaos in the world.” Co-Star agrees: “In a world where instability is justified beyond comprehension,” the company argues, “we force everything that doesn’t fit through a filter of likes, swipes, and follows. But rationality suffocates. The human in us craves connection; the dreamer yearns for mystery. So we search for meaning in the madness, if only for the sign that makes us take a leap of faith. Where technorationalism ends, we begin.”
Main image: Illustration by Kouzou Sakai for the Innovation Group