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Rebelling Against Technology

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Three Considerations for Marketers Looking to Connect with The Disconnected



With the average person spending nearly 7 hours per day on screens, technology has embedded itself in the fabric of our modern world. It is disrupting our workforce with Artificial Intelligence gaining traction across the globe. And while there are significant benefits to technological advancements, this relentless progression has inspired an uprising of people who question the impact it’s having on their lives. They’re called the Modern Luddites and they are championing a return to physical, offline interactions, and human experiences.


Rebelling against technology is not new. The term Luddite goes back to the 19th century when a group of English textile workers opposed the use of automated looms that threatened their jobs. Today, this new cohort points to the negative effects of technology on their mental health, society at large and the environment. It's worth noting that not all critics of technology identify as Luddites, and not all Luddites reject technology outright. Regardless, this cohort is an important one to consider, especially for marketers looking to connect with Gen Zers who are the largest adopters of this new outlook.


Here are some considerations for marketers looking to accommodate the Modern Luddite cohort:


1. IRL Connections are Key.

While technology gave us the ability to work, collaborate and innovate from home, it could not replicate the energy of in-person connection. Recent data shows that over 4 out of 5 Gen Zers have a newfound appreciation for in-person interactions and almost all said that in-person meet-ups are the best.


Marketers can capitalize on this by making it easier to connect over shared interests. This could present itself as pop-up events, community celebrations, interactive event sponsorships, and more. REI does this well with guided day trips that help its community of outdoor enthusiasts connect with nature, customers that share their interests and the brand.


2. Incorporate Hands-On Experiences.

Part of the pushback against technology means embracing a more tactile, hands-on life. A recent study showed that 77% of Gen Z respondents said they preferred to buy handmade goods, and 83% of them said they had created something with their hands in the past year.


Marketers that sell physical products can look to incorporate customers into the process to create a hands-on, tangible brand experience. For example, Lee Valley has been offering classes to customers that range from gardening to woodworking, all utilizing tools sold in-store.


3. Focus on Word-of-Mouth Buzz.

Since online outreach may not be the best way to reach this cohort, marketers can make an impact through offline advertisements and word-of-mouth. Of course to achieve this, the advertisement or initiative must be provocative and give people something to talk about.


Back in 2018 when the UK faced a chicken shortage that disrupted restaurants, KFC published the now infamous ‘FCK’ ad in local newspapers to apologize for the inconvenience. Readership of these papers escalated to over 1 billion total impressions as consumers appreciated the honesty and transparency of the fast-food giant.


While the Modern Luddite cohort does not account for everyone, it represents a mindset that has the potential to grow in the face of rapid technological advancements. As marketers, it is important to stay mindful of counterculture groups as ultimately, they are how every macro shift first begins.


This post is part 2 of a 5-part series, bringing to life our STEEP framework for 2023. The framework presents macro trends that span Socio-Demographic, Technology, Environment, Economy, and Politics to account for each letter in our STEEP acronym. Within this series, we will explore how each one of these macro trends trickle down into our daily lives and provide the modern marketer with cues to help them navigate this evolving reality. Read Part 1: Navigating Canada’s Influx of Retirees.


We make it our business to stay on top of the trends that impact your business. Through our proprietary Disruption Audit and Trends Analyses services, we help decode what is happening in our world to give you a more fulsome view of the future and chart a clear path forward with actionable business strategies. Learn more or email us at info@sklarwilton.com

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