4 May 2024

The Age of Re-enchantment

VML Intelligence presents "The Age of Re-enchantment," a global trends report unpacking how brands can help people transcend tough times by creating emotion-inducing experiences that deliver feelings of joy, wonder and even fear.


It’s time to remake the world through the lens of re-enchantment, where the new brand metrics are jaw drops, heart swells and goosebumps. Whether numbed by pandemic isolation, burned out by grind culture, or shocked by the 21st-century horrors of politics, war, and climate crisis, people are feeling a sense of absence that is hard to neatly define. Brands can help them transcend these tough times and jolt them from long-standing malaise by celebrating the thrilling, the uplifting, the awe-inspiring, and the magical.


People have always enjoyed being transported but, crucially, there is now an appetite for brands to deliver this. In a global survey for VML, almost twice as many people say they are likely to buy from brands that bring them a sense of joy (49%), or those that surprise and delight them (45%), than from brands that just do what they say they will (26%). Yet, few brands are tapping into this desire: 70% of people say they can’t remember the last time a brand did anything that excited them.

The report unpacks emerging consumer trends and shares key implications for brands and businesses. It builds on original research conducted with SONAR, VML’s research consultancy, in China, the UK and the US, exclusive interviews with 20 experts, qualitative studies with Generation Z consumers from 17 countries, and more than 100 case studies.


Dark comforts

Content exploring dark and dystopian themes is on the rise, offering people ways to process complex emotions.

Sensory techtopias

Advanced technology offers new opportunities to deeply immerse and engage people, tantalizing all of the senses.

Generative awe

Brands are racing to harness the vast and awe-inspiring potential of generative AI.

Absurdist retail

Brands and retailers are using the surreal, the dreamlike, and the wondrous to inspire, helping consumers find beauty in a chaotic world.

"Customers are looking for a sense of discovery and escapism from the everyday, thus they relate to spaces that transport them away and take them on an adventure." - Torquil McIntosh and Simon Mitchell (Co-founders of the global design studio Sybarite)

Survey findings include:

  1. 70% of consumers want to feel part of something bigger than themselves
  2. 65% of people would like brands to wow them with spectacular advertising and marketing
  3. 61% want brands to help them feel intense emotions


To download the full report, click here.