What’s a digital detox and how does it affect brands?

Endaba Group

Today’s obsession is with being “always-on”. The world is full of digital noise, online 24/7 and we’re bombarded by an endless stream of communication from a proliferation of digital devices from friends, family and brands. But, this “always-on” mentality is taking its toll.

In fact, digital behaviour can even encourage bad behaviour. Time magazine surveyed people’s mobility and found that 68% of users take their mobiles to bed, 20% check their phones every 10 minutes and a third feel anxious when separated from them. It’s been linked to stress and anxiety levels and can make us flaky, rude and ignorant. Mobile phones allow us to be badly behaved: to be late, distracted, and not pay someone our undivided attention

Whilst technology is a fantastic thing, it’s important to switch off once in a while. JWT Intelligence – who investigates next-gen utopias and unquantified landscapes in a world of hyper-digital realism – suggests that the rise of big data means there are no secrets, fuelling the desire and need for escapism.

The latest wellness trend is simple: switch off your phone. According to Greenlight, 1 in 4 Brits last year planned to take a “digital detox” – a breather from their digital lives. Ofcom, who charted the rise of the digital detox, found that 15 million UK internet users have undertaken a digital detox in a bid to strike a healthier balance between technology and life beyond screens.

This is particularly popular around holidays. So, with the arrival of Easter next week, are we going to see consumers take a digital detox?

What does this mean for brands?

Rather than seeing this as an obstacle, brands should embrace the trend for digital-downtime and even provide offline experiences that encourage consumers to engage online when they do reconnect.

A digital detox offers an opportunity to do things differently. Particularly since consumers are choosy about who and what they pay attention to, brands need to evaluate how they engage with their audiences both online AND offline. It’s necessary to have greater targeting, more analysis and relevant communication in order to cut through the noise and drive results.

There’s no single answer or road map for brands during a digital detox because branding is about differentiation. It does offer an opportunity for experiential activity, driving a meaningful, personal connection offline as consumers, escaping the digital realm, need the interaction, support, warmth and fun of being with other humans.

The demands of connected living mean consumers will inevitably come back to their screens and devices and reconnect. So, rather than tempting consumers back online, brands just need to use this as an opportunity to help people enjoy their time off and ensure they remain relevant for their audiences when they’re both online and offline