Posted on November 29, 2022 by Jessica Mason

Trend Report: Are we moving offline?

Digital natives are now favouring an online aesthetic that celebrates life spent offline.

Evidence of this started in 2021 with Instagram photo dumps - a monthly roundup of low-fi content rather than maintaining a constant curated feed - and is spreading in popularity through apps like BeReal. 

This trend continues to rise with Instagram and TikTok recently announcing plans to create ‘authentic’, in-moment experiences similar to BeReal. 

On the Codec platform, we’ve seen a rise in interest in offline topics amongst our most digital communities.  Interest scores for baking have increased by 21%, gardening by 14%, and hiking by 18%. Looking at Google Trends, we can see a spike in searches for offline technology such as disposable cameras, rising by 65% in June 2022. 

We’re delving deeper into the trend quickly taking the internet by storm. 

The offline aesthetic

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In the same way social media users participated in performative activities to bolster their online image (think filters, facetune and millennial pink brunch cafes), this online trend is impacting our offline behaviours thanks to the emphasis on assembling real-life into effortless-looking content. 

Content that performs well online showcases a rich life spent offline. Romanticising everyday activities like going to school or going for a walk, sharing analogue hobbies like pottery or cooking, and afternoons spent thrift shopping on the high street. 

The core trend aesthetics hark back to the pre-online world of the noughties when yo

u really did have to wait to share your photos. Instant cameras, blurry action shots and lens flare can all be found. Anything professionally shot sticks out like a sore thumb, and authenticity is the word du jour. 

Of course, like no-makeup makeup, this ‘effortless’ online image takes time, money and a certain amount of privilege to upkeep. But it does signal a clear departure from the online aesthetic of the 2010s when influencers reigned supreme.

How are brands responding?

Carhartt’s AW/22 lookbook announcement on Instagram led with a soft focus, almost sepia-toned image. Gen Z favourite, Topicals skincare, features un-re-touched, low-fi selfies on their Instagram, and brands like Nandos are gaining 100k+ TikTok followers using a posting strategy that mimics the low-fi norms of the space. 

While professional imagery and high-fi content also have a place, it’s clear that low-fi content that looks and feels effortless is trickling down on social media from creators to consumers and brands. 

Advice to brands  

Brands looking to tap into this space should keep 3 all important Cs in mind:

  • Content - When creating for social media - don’t overproduce your content. Swap videographers and photoshoots for an iPhone and community-led content, and let the authentic voice of your brand shine through. Too much overly produced content will soon feel out of place on social platforms. Save that for your other marketing collateral.

  • Creators - Creators > Influencers - it’s time to refresh your approach to influencer marketing. The days of using your influencer budget on 1 big name are coming to an end. Instead, look to what creators and styles of content your community are engaging with. How can you mimic their posting style? What new creator partnerships could you utilise?

  • Channels - If people spend less time engaging with content on your traditional platforms - meet them where they are, and mimic successful content. For example, if lots of your audience have ditched Instagram for TikTok you’ll need a social strategy refresh to stay relevant. If still imagery is no longer working for you on Instagram, invest in videos to gain that important organic reach.
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