In the run-up to the 2012 Oscars and having swept all before it at the BAFTAs, it is hard to ignore Michel Hazanavicius’ silent black and white film The Artist, a critically-lauded homage to a period of cinema long-since past.

But beyond the praise heaped on the movie for it’s writer-director, musical score and cast, there is an interesting parallel with what we have seen across markets and consumer groups – trends towards nostalgia and slowing down. In other words, taking a step back from the fast-paced, technology and social media-driven world of constant interaction with brands, advertisers and fellow consumers.

Mintel’s Inpsire points to this in the trend Switch Off, the three central tenets of which are:

  • Not demonizing technology, but finding a way to adapt to the realities of a tech-saturated society.
  • Helping consumers find a sense of balance, moderation, and control over their time.
  • Watching for a resurgent demand in analog, outdoor, and old-school products and experiences.

Perhaps in small way the success of The Artist highlights that in the consumer leisure world there is still huge reward for consumers and providers both to indulge in slower, quieter, more thoughtful pieces of content.

There will always, of course, be mass demand for the escapism provided by traditional blockbusters, but with people looking to redress the balance in a world dominated by keeping up with the most modern, the latest and the fastest of everything, there is a concurrent demand for taking a step into a more quiescent form of escapism – finding enjoyment in different ways, be it a silent film, a slow-cooked and slowly-enjoyed meal, the Sunday newspapers read in print rather than online, or spending time away from screens.

In the case of the surprise hit of recent months, silence has proved golden: is this a genuine surprise from leftfield, or something more deeply ingrained in our changing demands and needs?

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