Connectivity vs Connection

Trends / Wellness
Sandra Michalska
Feb 12, 2024
More than half of Europeans believe that the digital age has helped people feel less lonely and alienated. At the same time, our data shows that nearly half of Europeans often feel disconnected and isolated from their peers. In a world that is more digitally connected than ever, is there a crisis of human connection? How can brands use visuals to foster connection?
Last year, the World Health Organization declared loneliness a pressing global health threat1. Our VisualGPS consumer research shows that almost half of Europeans often feel isolated from their peers, and this is felt stronger by the youngest generation: Gen Z. They now have yet another label—"the loneliest generation ever". In the past, they have also been called "digital natives", so it's no surprise that they're looking for connections online. Reminiscent of the old lonely‑hearts columns, people are now using Facebook groups to advertise that they are looking for friends2. On the other hand, going digital‑free to reconnect with the IRL world is growing popular, as Dumbphones have made their comeback3. In the last 12 months, customer searches for "digital detox" trended above expected, suggesting that our customers are looking for ways to show different ways of switching off.

Across Europe, 6 in 10 consumers believe that feelings of loneliness are a societal problem that need collective action. This presents opportunities for brands to show collective experiences, connection and sense of community at a larger scale.
Uplifting humanity, empathy and emotive connection are key brand opportunities.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen a major shift in visualizing connection. That's when we started to observe more togetherness through visual stories of love, joy, fun and celebration on the screens of our devices. Our European customers ditched staged perfection for real homes, with real colours, real clutter and real people stories. Aesthetically, we've seen more muted, softer tones that were reminiscent of slower, confined evenings—subtly illumined by screens. This interplay of light and obscurity has added depth and relatability to the stories of human connection, as our European customers sought to foster empathy with their audience.

Today, empathy and relatability remain essential when showing human connections. Our talented creators continue to create relatable visuals to help our customers create engaging connections with the audience. Here are different actionable tips when choosing your visuals:

1. Turn on the video
Think about videos to turn everyday moments into dynamic visual content. Consider subtle handheld pans and gentle tilts that will mimic our natural way of seeing life and moments. Rack focus between people will reflect natural conversation dynamics. While shortcuts will bring rhythm; longer, steady shots will allow viewers to immerse themselves in your story.

2. Think of spontaneity and visual serendipity
We found that 8 in 10 Europeans want to see more humour in visuals. This can be achieved by showing spontaneous moments. Remember that real life is not staged, so embrace the spontaneity as well as moments of heart‑warming awkwardness and serendipity. According to our research, humour is more likely to make your visual stand out and be remembered.

3. Create relatable representation
Relatable connections are not only about showing empathy and emotive relationships between people. It’s also about the way you represent the who, how and why. People want to see themselves reflected in advertising, so always be inclusive of all intersecting identity factors when showing the stories of connection, love and relationships.
[1] The Guardian
[2] Vice
[3] El Pais
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