As we approach this adaptive post-pandemic era, our customers’ wants and needs have changed. Retailers are juggling the rapid changes of 2020 while catching up on the natural evolution of the New Age market over the past three decades. New Age is the Now Age and Grandma’s radical views are the norm for today’s emerging adults. Talking to long-time retailers these are five of the more profound changes our market is experiencing in the long and short term:
Evolution >> Finding an easily accessible new age or spiritual supply store was like finding your long-lost tribe. Regional availability of books and supplies were spotty, inspiring travel for real information and acceptance. Books, local musician CDs and crystals were bought local and hoarded. Today, social media makes online classes, information, and community events a Google search away. Spiritual seekers are quickly finding answers to their own questions through e-books, streaming music through services and buying crystal sets online, pulling business from the local stores.
Adaptation << Disconnected us from group events and interacting with our community. We crave community and connection again and are returning to the local store for the experience it brings us.
Evolution >> Classes were advertised in the local store bulletin board and in the regional body-mind-spirit publications if you were lucky enough to have one in your area. Word of mouth and in-store events where how community was created. Now, we have conventions, online apps, and social media creating community that can span the country, eliminating the reliance on the local store as the community hub.
Adaptation << Canceled all in-person gatherings forcing us to recreate community virtually. Smaller support groups have bonded, and live-streamed rituals have brought strangers together from around the world.
Evolution >> The mainstream market made fun of anything remotely new age and new age stores were scared of anything pagan or witch-oriented. Now, there is a fascination with ancestors, aboriginal spirituality and witchy spells, with each a growing trend.
Adaptation << Self-care is paramount as we navigate the pandemic. Mainstream influencers are turning to new age and folk magic practices to keep calm and find their center in a time of collective trauma. Sales are booming for the new age and spiritual market.
Evolution >> Three decades ago, we were scrambling for authentic wisdom and respected teachers to guide us on this awakening age. In today’s Google society all it takes is one well-phrased search and three articles and we can feel like the expert in almost any subject.
Adaptation << Confinement sent us collectively online more. This is leading to many influencers suddenly becoming the authority based on the number of followers instead of the deeper study. Conspiracy theories can spread like wildfire through social media channels, and damaging communities by polarizing their members.
Evolution >> Seekers were hungry for more information and desperate for anything that represented them and their belief. This opened the market to publishing superstars as well as inauthentic imports to meet the aesthetic trend. Today, we have consumers who are educated in ethical sourcing and can quickly research any claim made by an author and the reputation of any brand.
Adaptation << 2020 highlighted the unsung leaders of the community through social media and made the published authors more available for one-on-one interaction through virtual meetings. The internet became the connection to the outside world causing beliefs to be polarized and the followers fanatic it their support. Influencer statements were easily taken as truth without research and at the same time, researching claims before repeating became the call to authenticity.
I am fascinated to see what the next 24 months bring to this industry and to see what will be forever changed and what will return as the norm.