Experiences rare and familiar are capturing major consumer attention, while world-building and storytelling remain key to creating meaningful content. Continue through the report for full insights and key, actionable takeaways. This month’s trends spotted by GPJ Strategists Erin Ruane and Ian Bush.

The total eclipse inspires collective, humbling discovery.

April’s total eclipse was the year’s biggest US travel event. In total, the supernatural spectacle drove nearly $1 billion dollars in revenue. While the tourism industry was eager to cater to eclipse chasers, other brands used the event as a jumping-off point for big announcements like Taylor Swift’s eclipse-laced lyric teaser. It’s clear the desire to gather, witness, and share unique real-time experiences is becoming more cherished and sought after—an interesting juxtaposition to digital media being our main source for “sharing” with others.

Brands are expanding on their content, creating worlds for fans to escape to.

As the consumer appetite for IRL attractions persists, brands are aggressively investing in conceptual, themed experiences that bring guests into worlds both familiar and new. While the gaming community steadily grows, so too do the experiences that surround said games.

In uncertain times, consumers gravitate towards the familiar to regain control and find comfort.

If you’ve participated in “comfort-binging” beloved shows or retro gaming recently, you’re not alone! The resurgence of platforms like the Analogue Pocket and nostalgic games like “Rugrats: Adventures In Gameland” reflect a craving for predictability and joy. This return to cherished pastimes, where outcomes are reassuringly known, provides an escape from today’s unpredictability, underscoring a shift in media towards emotional security and the power of the familiar as a form of control and escapism.

Shifts in content consumption highlight a preference for authentic, reciprocal stories over spectacle.

The ‘Barbenheimer’ phenomenon illustrated a viral shift in how stories transform and transpose
across different mediums
, underscoring a growing preference for audiences to be a part of the journey more than simply being voyeurs to spectacle. This trend signals a reemergence of stories as a cultural bonding agent, like campfire stories where a well-chosen word over a flame holds as much power as any CGI monster on a big screen. It’s about sharing our stories, not just telling them.

OUT-THERE EXPERIENCES

People, brands and marketers continue to push the boundaries of physical and digital experiences, with new and creative executions popping up across the globe.

Well now you can! McDonald’s recently debuted a series of billboards in the Netherlands that contain the distinct aroma of McDonald’s fries.

After 8 years, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas has been released and it’s just as creepy as you’d think. The robot has superhuman strength and a superhuman ability to get up from the ground.

The arid city of Dubai saw 2 years worth of rainfall in just 2 days and some conspiracy theorists believe the UAE’s use of “cloud seeding” is to blame.

IKEA just released a furniture collection specifically for gamers. Instead of edgy gamer vibes the design aesthetics are intended to fit in with existing home decor. 

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