When Amazon debuted the Prime Member horoscope last month via their Insider’s newsletter, I chuckled. I thought, it’s either terrible or terribly on point. Turns out, it’s both. The monthly shopping horoscope overtly ties astrological signs and what is happening in the cosmos to Amazon products and services like Prime Reading, Prime Music or Whole Foods Market. It’s not exactly great content, but it’s riding a cultural trend.
Don’t be fooled by the negative press around Amazon’s marketing effort, thought - Astrology is wildly popular. According to research firm IBISWorld, consumers spent $2.2 billion on “mystical services” in 2018. The past few years have seen the popularity of tarot cards and healing crystals, as well as a rise in self-identifying wiccans. Astrology is the latest to go mainstream.
On-demand astrology apps like Sanctuary, Co-Star, and The Pattern have been downloaded millions of times – something venture capitalists are not only watching but investing in. Famed Susan Miller boasts a following of 17 million people, runs the best-selling Daily Horoscope Astrology Zone app, and is regularly featured in magazines and branded content. Brands like Spotify have “Cosmic Playlists” and beauty brand Fresh’s limited edition astrology-themed sugar lip balms demonstrate the normalization of something once thought of as very woo woo.
We are living in the wellness era, and that includes everything from self-care to therapy to mindfulness to houseplants. Tapping into the cosmos included. It’s seen as a way to better understand yourself and others, engage with intent, and act with more awareness. At a time when Millennials are turning away from religion faster than any other age group, the majority still seek meaningful connections with the universe.
A study from 2018 conducted by Vice and Insight Strategy Group found that religion is on the decline with young people, but 80 percent have a sense of spirituality and believe in some sort of cosmic power. And to define that cosmic power?
“It can be anything, really. The top answer to how young people take care of their soul was through listening to music and attending concerts and music festivals. That was followed by engaging in self-care (hello, Headspace), talking to friends, going for hikes or long walks and creating art or writing. Number 18 on the list was visiting organized spaces for religion.” -Katie Richards, AdWeek 6/19/18
AUTHENTIC ASTROLOGICAL CONNECTIONS
Whether brands play it silly like Foodora’s Foodstrology or straight like Goop’s cosmic wellness, how brands engage with this trend depends on the consumer they are targeting. This is where Amazon is arguably getting it wrong. When you consider how seriously some take astrology, Amazon’s efforts come off as one-note; but if it was meant in jest, the joke is landing flat. An example of getting it right? Coach launched a Life Coach pop up in New York last June that tapped into their female Millennial target’s desire to live a more meaningful life that included a dark forest of self-discovery, equipped with tarot card readings and horoscopes.
What Coach did right here was to understand their consumers’ desire to engage more deeply with themselves and offer an experience that did just that. Astrology and other cosmic services fit with younger consumers, predominantly female, who are focused on individuality and self-improvement. Teeing up the experience as a “Life Coach” was not only ownable to the brand, but also encapsulated the higher order benefit of a cultural trend.
THE NEXT WAVE
Astrology is going mainstream and should not be disregarded as woo woo spiritualism; but it isn’t just about believing in something bigger than oneself as a way to find comfort in a stressful time or as a replacement for religion. Astrology is actually acting as a framework within our culture as a way for (some) people to manage their lives.
The trends in wellness have moved from physical (yoga) to emotional (self-care) to spiritual (astrology, tarot, nature). If you have a consumer looking to connect with the world around them and become more in tune with themselves, this could be the place to explore. After all, the sun and Mercury are both still in bright, curious, unpredictable Gemini and offers a chance to ask the questions that glimmer inside you.
For more commentary, listen to my conversation with Jordana Green and guest-host Cy Admunson on WCCO here.