Cartoon graphic of apple-shaped clocks and leaves. It also features the trend title: Synchronos.
Cartoon graphic of apple-shaped clocks and leaves. It also features the trend title: Synchronos.

Reset the clocks for burned out consumers

Make→Shift is part of TrendWatching's Free Trend Updates. Each monthly issue examines one cross-industry movement no brand can afford to ignore, answering 'why now' and spotlighting the opportunities brands can act on today.

All in a six-minute read. 

How to succeed in the race against time (P.S. It’s not all about speed)

Blursday, languishing or just plain confusion? Whatever you call it, for many people the pandemic altered their perception of time — reminding them that it isn’t infinite and should be used more consciously. As consumers in some parts of the world start to unpause and try to catch up to 15 months of missed experiences, they'll want to maximize the time they have by creating and celebrating what really matters. Your role? Launch SYNCHRONOS initiatives that help consumers extract value from every moment.

Stopwatch off. Thinking cap on.

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Cartoon graphic of apple-shaped clocks, leaves and stars.
Cartoon graphic of apple-shaped clocks, leaves and stars.

Why now?



In recent decades, people looked to work for identity and personal fulfillment, but the pandemic prompted a change of perspective. In the past year, 46% of the global workforce has considered making a major career transition — and that’s not just Millennials ditching the office for side hustles. Almost half (49%) of US companies with a mostly blue-collar workforce found it hard to retain workers, up from 30% pre-pandemic (Conference Board, April 2021).


Increased screen time is another COVID legacy. The typical internet user spent 16 minutes longer online each day in Q3 2020 than in Q3 2019 — a year-on-year increase of 4% (GWI). For many, the value exchange doesn't add up. Even those reaping the rewards of all that time spent online are feeling it: in March, Charlie D'Amelio, a TikTok star with 117 million followers, said that she’d ‘lost the passion’ for posting content.



Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is predicting the “travel rebound of the century.” Customers are opting for longer trips — bookings for 28-night minimum jumped from 14% of nights booked in 2019 to 24% in Q1 2021 — with complicated travel restrictions driving a shift from short breaks to experience-centric slow tourism. As flexi and four-day workweek models gain traction, consumers will seek out more opportunities to explore.



Social network only shows friends’ updates once a week

Launched in the US in January 2021, Sundayy is a social media platform that’s designed to be checked once a week — on Sunday. Users are encouraged to write ‘reflections’ on Monday through Saturday. Throughout the week, those notes are hidden. On Sunday, all is revealed and people can see what their friends have been up to and follow up offline, with a call or a text. Sundayy is intended to be used with a small group of close friends and family members.


Tool measures the quality of time spent outdoors

Q2 2021 saw US-based NatureQuant launch NatureDose — a tool designed to help users make the most of time spent outside. The tech syncs with sports activity tracking app Strava to measure outdoor activity and ‘score’ outdoor exposure on length and quality of nature immersion. NatureQuant’s first tool, NatureScore, evaluates the quality of natural elements found at any given location in the US, allowing users to determine how accessible nature is from their home or workplace.


Slow travel brand specializes in no-fly holidays

November 2020 saw the launch of Byway: a sustainable holiday company specializing in no-fly holidays and slow travel. Byway offers custom multi-stop journeys by train, boat, and bike to the UK and France, featuring family-run, independent accommodations. Packages start at GBP 198 per person for three nights, including travel and accommodation at destinations such as the Highlands, the Cornish Coast and Corsica. Byway Travel aims to expand across Europe once travel can resume fully.


“Celebrate the flops… and #fails” says Nike

According to Nike’s Play New campaign (May 2021), sport isn’t about ‘just doing it’, but the joy of movement and the creativity of play. In a change of tack for the sports megabrand, the campaign doesn’t show elite athletes testing their physical limits, but simply people having fun while keeping fit. On social media, a Snapchat AR lens allowed users to try activities like boxing and dance, while TikTok creators were challenged to share funny sporting experiences.


Hotel group launches multi-generational travel experiences

Fam.ily is an experience brand developed by the Shangri-La Group for multi-generational families looking to vacation together. Through Fam.ily, guests can take part in activities designed to encourage learning through play and shared experiences. The concept was announced in May 2021, with programs rolling out at four properties in mainland China in Q3 2021. To celebrate its launch, Shangri-La invited consumers to share their family stories on Weibo and Red for a chance to win a trip.


Pizza Hut incentivizes consumers to live in the moment

For Earth Hour 2021, Pizza Hut encouraged households to unplug and embrace the moment — rewarding those who disconnected their internet connection for the full hour with an edible reward. Consumers in Oman and the UAE were invited to visit a webpage where they could virtually ‘flick’ a switch, thereby allowing the page (which functions without a wifi connection) to monitor the household’s internet usage. Households that completed the ‘Offline Hour’ were entitled to free pizza.





Consumers keen to reevaluate and reprioritize will need SYNCHRONOS tools and services to help them find meaning and value in their hours and days. Some will be looking for support to start their own business or realize their side hustle ambitions; others will seek services that can help them live out their digital nomad dreams — portable offices are just the start. Employers looking to avert a brain drain could consider lifestyle bonuses or U-Work policies. Alternatively, consider the root causes of employee malaise. Could you give your staff autonomy to embed meaning and purpose into their roles?


Not everyone is looking to take such drastic measures. But consumers looking to overcome pandemic-induced stagnation will appreciate brands that push them out of their comfort zone. Nike's Play New campaign encouraged people to take up sports, irrespective of their skill level. Carpe diem messaging will resonate, particularly if it goes a step further and nudges people into using their time more intently. While it may sound counterintuitive to use tech to reconnect to what really matters, that's exactly what Sundayy and NatureQuant are trying to do. Instead of fighting against consumers' impulses, how can you use those impulses to nudge them towards 'better' behavior?



Per Q1 2021 data from GWI, in Israel and the UAE — countries considered vaccine leaders — consumers are keen to return to live events and museums. In fact, interest is now bigger in those places than it was before COVID. But there's often a gap between intention and action. If creating digital services, could you make consumers aware of their usage stats? Apple's screen time reports are just the start. Consumers will appreciate tough-love brands that put users' interests first. And as the debate surrounding tech’s social impact intensifies, it could help set you apart.


Five easy ways to start practising SYNCHRONOS within your organization:

  1. Read this article about how brands are creating time and space for workers to reflect and catch their breath.

  2. Listen to the 'Ditch Busy' podcast, which centers around helping business professionals take back control of time, both personally and at work.

  3. Implement working practises that actively encourage employees to get away from their desk. Have a look at Unilever's new manifesto for inspiration.

  4. Share this article with your network on your preferred platform, highlighting the meaningful opportunities you're motivated to put into action! 🙌

  5. Get more of our content by signing up to our Free Trend Updates. All purposefully designed for kickstarting purpose-driven innovation — or PDI, as we call our methodology

The Make→Shifts you may have missed:

From "The Fight for Facts" to the new "Hands Off" economy, our previous Make→Shift issues provide a cornucopia of purpose-driven insights, plus actions you can take on the trends that matter.

Read previous briefings

And what's more...

  • Did someone say 4-day workweek?
    Companies across the globe are trialing or permanently implementing 4-day workweeks and employees are embracing the change. Head over to our sister publication Business of Purpose for tips on reducing hours and boosting your staff's wellbeing.

Never miss an opportunity again.

Words: Vicki Loomes, Robbie Hodges, Erick Smet, Thomas Klaffke, Liesbeth den Toom.
Design & direction: Nikki Ritmeijer, Zuzanna Loch and Riz Razak.

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