Elysha Young
Elysha manages the Asia Pacific Mintel Trends team made up of expert analysts and trend spotters. She currently oversees content for Mintel Trends as well as client servicing for the region.

Smartphone brand Vivo, has launched a campaign called #SwitchOff that urges smartphone users to take a break from their devices and spend time with near and dear ones. 

Conceptualised and executed by ad agency Lowe Lintas, the campaign film showcases family members glued to their smartphone screens while sitting together at the dining table. The spot ends with the caption ‘Many of us spent 2020 together but did we really spend time together?’

The ‘always-on’ culture

COVID-19 has indeed had the dual effect of forcing people to spend more time at home and, in many cases, with their families, while pushing any external communication online. For those working from home, the blurring of work and home life has been difficult to avoid and is contributing to an ‘always-on’ culture where one is always a phone call or email away. 

According to Mintel research, over a third of Indian consumers say that they are actively seeking ways to disconnect from their smartphone. Given consumers no longer have a real option about whether to own a smartphone, this positioning by Vivo is empathetic about the dilemma posed by technology being, in many ways, a necessary evil that can erode immediate physical connections with loved ones.

Mintel Trend ‘Switch Off’ highlights how technology has created inescapable levels of connectivity and exposure. And consumers need some time off, some privacy, and the chance to reconnect with the real world. 

For example, Colombia’s Congress has approved the first stage of regulation to protect the rights of workers to technologically disconnect from work. Whereas, Absolut and BBH Singapore have launched a global campaign reminding Millennial and Gen Z consumers that no matter how popular you are online, nothing can replace real human connections.

What we think

As digital dependency rises, dominating everything from school education and work to basic communication with loved ones, feelings of isolation and loneliness will likely increase. Mintel Trend Driver ‘Technology’ highlights how concerns about digital reliance and mental wellbeing are being exacerbated by a COVID-19-enforced reliance on digital communication channels. 

Reminding consumers to switch off will not be enough, and indeed could incur frustration and resentment from those who know they must but either don’t know how or do not have the option. In this sense, brands have an opportunity to provide more tangible strategies for consumers looking to create new, less tech-dependent habits, and help guide them towards a better balance.