Signs manifesting the trend of “Minimalism”

In her recently published Article Bettina Seiger, Strategic Planner at Grey, Germany analyses what possession means in an increasingly complex and noisy culture drawn by abundance and exzessive demand, which shouldn’t be new to any of you so i’ll cut out the usual introduction. After all research states, that happiness is not about how much money we make, but how we spent it – spoiler: it’s rather the experiences we “buy” than possessions.

Thus it doesn’t seem surprising that people are looking for strategies on how to cope with this condition shown in the growing demand for a better “Work life Balance”, Meditation and Information Detox. On facebook alone, there are up to 6 million aktive users today showing an interest for “Minimalism”; Google registers more than 120 thousand impressions for “minimalism” and “becoming minimalist” every month – increasing.

Taking a glance at the search results listed on Google show that “Minimalism”, “Downshifting” or “Light Weight Life” is a topic that has been covered by every major news platform in Germany: Die Welt, Spiegel Online and Die Zeit. It seems like there is something to this “trend”. After all there is a huge number of blogs covering the topic of “how to become a minimalist.” There’s even a documentary coming out soon. And while we’re at it, the same guys hosted a very insightful TED Talk.

Are there any signs?

Finally, let’s have a closer look at the signs manifesting this “trend”:

sharing is caring

The emergence of the “Sharing Economy” is the first sign manifesting the trend of Minimalism. More and more people, especially in Germany are turning in their “freedom” of owning a car and start using carsharing services such as DriveNow or Car2Go. For even longer, people have been colluding to share their car on platforms such as BlaBlaCar. Quite interesting to see the automotive industry shattering since a car has been one of the most — if not the most important status symbols for decades.

On the platform Pumpipumpe you can order stickers for your mailbox to show your neighbors what tools you can share. Why own a drilling machine if you only use it a few times a year? 12 to 15 minutes per year to be precise. Society seems to question this fact. Meine Spielzeugkiste, a start up based in berlin let’s you subscribe to a box with children toys – and send it back.

streaming is the new owning

Instead of owning physical or digital goods, more and more people have turned to using streaming services such as Spotify or Netflix. Gone are the days of shelves full of CDs, DVDs and even Books — thanks to Amazon’s Kindle – an there’s even a flatrate for eBooks now. Yeah!

Instead of spending money on music (which is mostly for free anyway) people rather seem to be spending on live concerts – as of experiencing it. Consequently “live nation”, the number one concert ticketing service in the world signs the biggest acts in the industry today, such as Madonna and U2.

„These days, its concerts and festivals that bring in all the money.”

Considered further streaming is not new. Other industries have been doing it for some time – printer companies have been “lending” their products to their customers. Instead of having to rely on the printer to break at some point in order to have further business growth this model benefits on the endurance of the printer. Why not cars, TVs or washing machines, … ?

the evolution of second hand

What has started of as a way to buy clothing for little money has evolved to a cult – used clothing has become fashionable, trendy and accepted. Some of the biggest players in E-Commerce have based their bussiness model on used, second hand goods, not only clothing but everything else: eBay, Amazon Marketplace, reBuy and many more. Kleiderkreisel, a german platform lets you trade your used clothes with other users.

An impressive example on how a brand benefits from this mechanic is, a non governmental organisation, based in Germany, which has launched a shop where people can sell their “leftovers” for a good cause.

All over again

The forth manifestation for the trend of “Minimalism” is the trend of recycling more and more brands implement as part of their strategy. IKEA has recently announced their life long warranty allowing customers to return their bought furniture whenever they want — and even get their cash back. Instead of storing their “used out” furniture in their basement millions of households in Germany have the possibility to “cash their trash”.

After all, the question remains: Is “Minimalism” really a trend or is it just a stream as the voice of the general media buzz states. After all – according to the Oxford Dictionary a trend is “a general direction in which something is developing or changing.” In this case the message for brands would be easy: “build better stuff”. But there is a downsite to this story – the rise of stores like Primark, that base their business model on providing goods at minimal costs (and quality). Weirdly, as it seems these trends are moving alongside.