According to a recent Deloitte study, a third of Brits reach for their smartphone within the first five minutes of waking. More alarmingly, one in three wake up to check their phone in the middle of the night. 

It’s clear that smartphone usage has impacted more than just our shopping habits.

Now, we are able to use mobile technology to encourage creativity and enhance entertainment – but arguably at the expense of our productivity and general well-being.

This topic was recently highlighted in Mindshare’s 2017 Trends report, which also cited how certain companies are tapping into the consumer’s desire to switch off.

Here’s a bit of elaboration on the subject, and a few more examples of how brands are (ironically) using technology to combat technology overload.

Dolmio Pepper Hacker

Last year, Dolmio used the notion of ‘too much tech’ as the basis of its own marketing campaign. It was built around the idea that technology has hijacked dinner time, with children becoming so absorbed in tablets and smartphones that they are completely unaware of everything going on around them. 

So, it created the ‘pepper hacker’ - a device that automatically disables surrounding Wi-Fi - to help families reclaim dinner time. 

It was a well-executed campaign, incorporating an amusing advert, a competition and a related creative – all hosted on a dedicated website. As well as using a relatable topic to target its core demographic of families, the brand was also able to show care and concern for the people who typically buy its products.

Apple

Apple included a whole host of sleep-related features in its iOS 10 update, recognising the growing problem of users being able to switch off from their phones at night. Putting ‘Bedtime’ into its own dedicated tab, it now allows users to configure alarms to remind them when to go to bed and when to wake up, emphasising that a regular pattern can help aid restful sleep. 

More recently, there’s been talk that Apple is to introduce new apps for the Apple Watch, including similar sleep and fitness trackers. If it does, this demonstrates the brand's greater intent to infiltrate the health industry, as well as perhaps recognition that it is intrinsically linked to users’ increasing sleep troubles.

GE

Another brand to tap into sleep-related issues is GE, with its range of C-Sleep light bulbs.

Designed to prevent harsh light from interrupting natural rhythms in the brain, the lightbulbs can be toggled between three settings – one for night, one for morning and one for any time in-between. By changing the light intensity, people will be able to prevent melatonin levels from being disrupted, as well as create a more calming and sleep-inducing bedtime environment.

This is a good example of a brand demonstrating that it’s not always about a reaction against technology itself – but finding ways to use technology in smart ways in order to facilitate a modern lifestyle. The fact that the lightbulbs can be controlled via an app proves that balance is key.

Meantime Brewing Company

Another content marketing campaign, this time from Meantime Brewing Company, based on the idea that technology is disrupting socialising and our ability to enjoy down-time. As part of its 'Make Time For It' campaign, it challenged six talented craftsmen from six cities to each create one element of a pop up bar. The premise being that it takes time to both create and enjoy a good beer.

Meantime’s London bar, also the smallest ever pop-bar, opened last October with one stipulation – everyone entering had to hand over their mobile phone so that they could enjoy a pint, technology-free. 

It’s not unusual for beer brands to use ideas of patience and calm – Guinness’s famous tagline is course “good things come to those who wait”. However, Meantime’s strict no-smartphone rule proved that more brands are cottoning on to the idea (as well as how it can be used to drum up a good bit of PR).

Headspace

Lastly, just one example of a brand that would not exist if there wasn’t a desire to switch off.

Headspace is one of the most successful mindfulness apps, designed to help users take a break from the treadmill of life and instead take a well-earned breather. Now reported to be worth £25m, there has been some suggestion that Headspace goes against the traditional, spiritual premise of true mindfulness. After all, not all of its features are free.

This is a pretty cynical view, however, and perhaps one that is beside the point here. What Headspace shows us is that mindfulness is now mainstream. Brands, whether they are already established or not, are merely finding more ways to capitalise on it.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 23 February, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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