The Business of Rituals: Elevating Consumer Experience in a Post-COVID World

In a world rife with uncertainties and amplified anxieties post-COVID-19, the concept of rituals has taken centre stage in the consumer landscape. 

From self-care routines to intentional practices, individuals are looking for grounding experiences that transcend to-do lists and offer a deeper sense of connection and purpose. This evolution from routines to rituals offers brands a unique opportunity to align with their consumer on an entirely new level. 

From Routine to Ritual
At the heart of every routine lies functionality. It’s about getting things done– “I need to pack the kids’ lunch” or “I need to make this coffee before I can sit down.” Yet, the shift from routine to ritual is a transformative one, where the emphasis morphs from simply completing a task to immersing oneself in the process.

From a business perspective, engaging consumers emotionally becomes the key. For instance, the act of making coffee can resonate with feelings of joy and appreciation for the small pleasures in life. Brands are now focusing on this emotional dimension to redefine their products and experiences through innovation and storytelling. 

The design focus has evolved to integrate aspects like form, materiality, haptics, and even the sound of products to appeal to the senses, creating lasting impressions that transcend the product itself.

The Businesses of Self-Care
The beauty and wellness industries offer a shining example of the power of rituals. Skincare, for instance, has transitioned from being a hurried task to a cherished ritual. Amidst the backdrop of increased anxiety and challenges, individuals are finding relaxation in the tactile sensations of applying creams, the scents of essential oils, or the rhythmic patterns of facial massages.

This mirrors a broader psychology where rituals act as anchors, providing stability and a sense of control amidst external chaos. As lives become more demanding, there’s a heightened need for moments of self-reflection, grounding, and care, making these ‘ritualistic products’ a potent tool for mental well-being.

And this is evident in the way consumers are spending money. The skin-care industry has developed at a breakneck speed. In the past decade, the global skincare industry has almost doubled and is now worth well over $160 billion per year– that’s around R3 trillion!

Crafting Environments: The Role of Hygge
While rituals are deeply personal, the environment significantly amplifies the experience. Enter the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ – an essence of cosiness, contentment, and well-being through simple things. The principles of Hygge provide a blueprint for creating that intimate, cosy environment conducive to rituals.

The environment becomes the stage, and products or ‘artefacts’ play their parts as symbolic enablers. Hence, brands are not just selling products; they are curating experiences, moments of ‘presence’ where consumers are fully immersed, finding joy in the smallest of interactions.

Gratitude and Appreciation
Every ritual has a closing act, an acknowledgment of the moment passed. In the consumer’s journey, this translates to a feeling of gratitude and appreciation. Brands that harness this emotive layer effectively build a deeper bond with their audience.

As the lines between functionality and emotion blur, industries are recognising the profound impact of rituals in consumer lives. By turning monotonous routines into rich, sensorial experiences, brands are not just catering to needs but resonating with the very soul of their consumers, providing comfort, connection, and a much-needed sense of grounding in an ever-evolving world.

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