“What the culture is craving is a sense of ease and reflection, of not needing to be stimulated or entertained or going after something constantly. … Nobody’s kicking out technology, but we have to regain our connection to others and to nature or else everybody loses.” Soren Gordhamer, founder of the Wisdom 2.0 conference (NYTimes.com, November 3, 2013)

“Mindfulness is part of a much larger trend we’ve been observing called mindful living. It’s kind of a counter-trend to the past decade of overly stimulated, tech-saturated culture that we’ve been living in. What was once the domain of the spiritual set has filtered into the mainstream as more people are drawn to this idea of shutting out distractions and focusing on the moment.” Ann Mac, Director of trendspotting at marketing communications behemoth, JWT Worldwide (Huffingtonpost.com, January 2, 2014)


Description

Soul searching is gaining momentum in modern societies among people who are adopting an inner quest, in contrast to what is tangible and external. While they used to represent 20% of the global population in 1975, atheist people will be less than 8% in 2020. In Russia for example, the proportion of believers has gone from 35% to 60% of the population, according to World Religion Database. However, the trend is being drawn by the non-believers, who are also increasingly opting for a search for meaning in their life, notably as a consequence of the pervasiveness of technology and post-recession anxiety.

While they used to represent 20% of the global population in 1975, atheist people will be less than 8% in 2020.

Contrary to religion that is a collective thing, the quest for spirituality in the modern world offers an individual and personal approach that overcomes the constraints imposed by religion. What has changed is that today’s people want to build their own definition of the inner quest and want it to meet their own specific needs. Many are realising that insider reflection and reevaluation are necessary to spur this personal discovery and unlock their own purpose, creativity and fulfillment. External appearance and roles are no longer sufficient to define who people are and self-actualization now comes through the full realization of one’s personal identity. Some people believe that mindful living and consumption are key to creating a sense of happiness, serenity and prosperity while helping to care for the self, which is the first step in caring for others, including family, friends and community. To this end, they aim to develop the personal, spiritual and intellectual through creative pursuits, spiritual practice and lifelong learning, and they want experience things in a more present, conscious way.

Filtering into the mainstream

No longer reserved to a minority of disciplined believers, spirituality has managed to be the concern of a growing number of consumers through the connection between the self, spirit and consumption. Mindful consumption is growing, as evidenced by a strong enthusiasm for Eastern cultures, a wish to return to nature, a significant spike of interest in holistic health, and the popularity of mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation.

Through mindfulness, meditators learn to pay attention to the present and cultivate clarity of mind, equanimity and wisdom.

In hospitals, businesses and community centers, meditation classes are increasingly being offered as a method of stress reduction. Practitioners aim to maintain a detached, calm awareness of their thoughts and sensations. Through mindfulness, meditators learn to pay attention to the present and cultivate clarity of mind, equanimity and wisdom. In the meantime, the craze around yoga in Western countries has been triggered by the widespread concern of developing basic mental and physical skills. Going a step further, people are experiencing spiritual or yoga retreats, not only in Hindu countries but in all major cities, from the Bali Spirit Festival to the Berlin Yoga Festival to the Wanderlust Festival Oahu and Caribbean Yoga Conference. Be they a beautiful Georgian house in Sussex or a Goan beach hideaway, yoga retreats get more inspirational, affordable, and feature leading instructors. Also, mystical practices have recently picked up with Millennials, who say that astrology and tarot are their favorite supernatural tools for combating existential angst (Newsweek.com, October 24, 2014). Spirituality shops are going mainstream while jewelry brands are selling more charm bracelets, necklaces, etc.

The new gurus

Far from abstract religious figures, today’s inspirational gurus are embodied in real, human and accessible people in Western countries. A new wealth of iconic professors, teachers, creatives, corporation CEOs or startup founders are managing their self-image (is it personal branding?) like movie or rock stars do. This trend comes from the U.S., a country that has always cherished self-made men and that is craving for success and performance (Usbek & Rica #7, Les Nouveaux Gourous, 2013). See the popularity of Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) or Eric Schmidt (Google) who have become the new opinion leaders of the modern times because they are inspiring an entire generation of keen entrepreneurs. In Asia, today’s superstars are no longer rock stars or handsome actors, but rather young Buddhist monks: South Korean Bubryun’s YouTube clips get an average of 66,300 views per day while his book Life Class has topped bestseller lists for weeks. Monk Hyemin’s book, Things You Can See Only When You Stop (Sam & Parkers; 1ST edition, 2012), has been chosen as the internet bookstore Yes 24’s bestseller of 2012 and 2013.

Featured examples

Seat Guru

Credit: Seatguru.com

Credit: Seatguru.com

Virgin Atlantic commissioned content from meditation gurus at Headspace for the in-flight entertainment system. SeatGuru is designed to help passengers meditate and deal with the stressors of traveling. The videos address topics such as how to get to sleep and deal with boredom.
United States of America United States, May 2012

Zen cocktail parties

Credit: NYTimes blog

Credit: NYTimes blog

Zen cocktail parties’ are the latest party concept in New York and are called “hipster American dining”. They consist of hosting a party with the sole purpose of meditation. Pioneered by famed NYC restaurateur Taavo Somer, these “Buddha in a bar” events have been designed to provide respite and relaxation for harried, creative “20- and 30-somethings.” Participants sit at communal tables, nibble charcuterie, drink wine and gin cocktails, and perform guided breathing exercises, all the while taking notes on how their physical or mental state might has been affected after their first or second drink.
United States of America United States, February 2014

Spirituality Shop

Credit: Freepeople.com

Credit: Freepeople.com

Fashion brand Free People has launched an online-only Spirituality Shop and has curated a selection of accoutrements for beliefs that tend toward the alternative rather than the conventional – objects such as crystals, smudge sticks, tarot cards and tonics. At the Spirituality Shop, devotees and dabblers can find Dead Sea salts for restorative baths, dreamcatchers to intercept bad dreams, a love potion for romantic prosperity, bundles of decorative driftwood sticks, wishing bottles, cylinder candles and incense.
United States of America United States, February 2014

Go Discover Abroad

Credit: Godiscoverabroad’s Facebook page

Credit: Godiscoverabroad’s Facebook page

An increasing number of travelers are choosing volunteering as a vacation option. Go Discover Abroad, an Indian travel portal, offers great volunteering opportunities for any traveler looking to help out the needy. It receives around 400-500 requests every year from Indians and foreigners on volunteer tourism opportunities. Volunteer tourists prefer destinations (like Delhi or Palampur) where they work on community development, health services or children’s issues, in addition to exploring tourist locations. Even northeast India and other less-developed destinations feature among the most preferred places for volunteer tourism.
India India, November 2013

Thomas Sabo

The jewelry category is in front row to embody this trend around soul and spirituality. Thomas Sabo’s Glam & Soul jewelry collection consists of 72 Karma Beads made of semi-precious stones. No doubt that these fashionable pieces will provide positive energy, charisma and happiness. Loquet London is a luxury jewellery label that allows the wearer to create their own bespoke locket using charms and precious gems by adding charms in gold, letters, numbers, birthstones to your heart- or round-shaped loquat.
France France & United-Kingdom United Kingdom, June 2013

My Little Paris

Capture d’écran 2015-03-20 à 10.48.00

French lifestyle city-guide My Little Paris published a newsletter on March 20, 2015 offering a selection of meditation-oriented spots in Paris. Located in different districts of the French capital, each of the 17 venues addresses either a category of people (beginners, skeptics, those in a hurry, New Yorkers), a place (in the office, in a dojo, in the water, in a park) or a moment (weekend, moon day ..).

France France, March 2015

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Embody your brand identity in a leading human figure, whether your founder or a well-known designer. In all cases, the chosen person must be iconic and inspirational in order to influence consumer thinking and behavior. For instance, transform a business manager into a market visionary or a product manager into an innovation specialist.

2

Have a strong and clear vision that goes beyond your brand to speak more broadly about the world.

3

Tell a personal story. Your brand’s guru must have compelling personal narratives to share with the world. Think about the attributes that investors and customers desire in a company founder, and weave your story in a way that delivers on some key attributes.

4

Tap into spiritual practices and set up mind-oriented events to gather individual minds.

Summary

  • Spirituality is definitely a growing market characterized by a strong enthusiasm for Eastern cultures, a wish to return to nature, a significant spike of interest in holistic health, and the popularity of mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation.
  • While they used to represent 20% of the global population in 1975, atheist people will be less than 8% in 2020. In Russia for example, the proportion of believers has gone from 35% to 60% of the population, according to World Religion Database.
  • Today’s inspirational gurus are embodied in real, human and accessible people such as iconic professors, teachers, creatives, corporation CEOs or start-up founders who are managing their self-image like movie or rock stars.
  • When traveling, Millennials are moving away from all-inclusive packages to make their time out meaningful by setting specific goals and personal purpose to travel.

Experts that we recommend

joe-vitale Joe Vitale
American entrepreneur and self-help author of book Spiritual Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Formula for Easily Creating Wealth from the Inside Out (1st Book Library, 2001)
raphael-liogier Raphael Liogier
Sociologist & author of book Souci de soi, conscience du monde, vers une religion globale ? (Armand Colin, 2012)
michel-lacroix Michel Lacroix
French philosopher & self-actualization specialist
laurent-gounelle Laurent Gounelle
French author of book L’homme qui voulait être heureux (Pocket, 2010)
eckhart-tolle Eckhart Tollé
Canadian author of book Unité avec toute vie (Ariane, 2009)