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.

Download "The Age of Re-enchantment"

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.

The Age of Re enchantment Teaser Film

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.  

A woman smiles with one arm raised and appears to jump and cheer in a crowd of people acting similarly. She is wearing a cropped white tank top and has curly, brown hair.

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

A black car in a carpark at night. The car has green lights and details. A woman wearing white with long hair stands with her back to the viewer, facing the car. A glowing woman with dark hair covering her face can be seen in the car's rear window.
Sadako Taxi

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

You can be dark and unexpected as long as the end of the story brings you back to your humanity.

Kenneth Carter

Charles Howard Candler Professor of Psychology, Oxford College of Emory University

Sensory techtopias

A large black cylinder rests in a white room, with a light subtly shining from behind it and white scaffolding above it.

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

Generative awe

A digital man with dark skin stands facing the viewer in front of a purple backdrop, wearing a purple hat, jacket, and pants that match the backdrop.
Maison Meta

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

Absurdist retail

A square silver room within blue lit trees hosts a large monkey sitting cross legged with its head to one side, wearing a silver suit of armor. The setting has retail stores from a mall behind it..
SKP-S Chengdu by Nick Kuratnik

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:

Download your copy of "The Age of Re-enchantment."

Please provide your contact information to continue.

Before submitting your information, please read our Privacy Policy as it contains detailed information on the processing of your personal data and how we use it.

Related Content

HERO F100 2023 cover

The Future 100: 2023

Our annual forecast of 100 trends to watch in the coming year.
Read Article
Abstract art consisting of block strokes of light sky blue and white. Colors darken closer to the bottom of the page. There’s a medium black block in the bottom right-hand corner.

Inclusion's Next Wave

A new trend report exploring emerging trends in inclusion, revealing a powerful role for brands.
Read Article