Dec 16, 2021Best of Canvas8 2021The best insights of 2021, according to you

What do young people hanging out at airports, pet-tech and nowstalgia have in common? They all caught your eye this year. We’re thrilled to share the Best of Canvas8 2021, our first-ever list of the best insights on the Canvas8 Library, according to you. The list is organized by behavior and is based on the traffic you and your fellow Canvas8ers were driving across our 30,000+ research pieces – the behavioral insights that sparked interest this year.

Josie Colter

The big brands you were tracking

– With people hesitant to get active and take up sports, Nike switched up its positioning to highlight the fun and joyful aspects of sport with a campaign that celebrates failure in Nike ‘Play New’.

Gucci x Roblox – Creating virtual worlds (hello Metaverse) became a big pandemic past time in 2021, and no brand nailed it better than Gucci and Roblox, debuting the 'Gucci Garden', where avatars become genderless mannequins as they embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Reddit – Reddit has become a space for Gen Zers to swap stories, memes, and information about vaccines, providing a welcome source of support.

The disruptor brands you couldn’t get enough of – authentic digital socializing – answering people’s calls for more emotionally connected virtual living, facilitates authentic digital socializing.

Axie Infinity - NFT commerce, play everyday – A play-to-earn game that gives people an opportunity to create and cultivate in-game characters and collectibles, which they can sell on cryptocurrency exchanges and use to earn a living.

Tmall Luxury Pavilion – high-end retail app An e-commerce storefront and ‘an app within an app’ on Tmall that drives shopper engagement with luxury brands through invite-only access.

Bodrop - social music discovery – an app that enables social music sharing through integration with Spotify and Apple Music, where users post one song per day.

Parsley box – shelf-stable meals – Meal delivery service Parsley Box makes itself approachable to older adults who may be reluctant to order food online.

Tomorrow bank – sustainable banking – A challenger bank founded in Germany, positioning sustainability as its top goal, leading the way for brands to merge necessary service offerings with values-driven behaviors.

Zwift – VR-enhanced indoor cycling – Combining gaming, community, and fitness, Zwift is a VR-enhanced gamified cycling program that lets people sweat together from the safety of their own homes.

Your icon of the year

The ‘Nigerian Barbie’ who resists by existing, Bobrisky – Influencer Bobrisky has leveraged her power on social media – on Instagram and Snapchat, in particular – to turn herself into a household name in both Nigeria and across Africa. In doing so, she has helped to bring conversations about trans identity into mainstream culture.

The food and drink topics that tickled your tastebuds

Self care snacking – The rise of ‘mindful snacking’ has seen people take a more conscious approach to between-meal breaks, paying more attention to portion sizes and ingredients.

Spirits moving beyond connoisseurship – Venue closures and more time at home have pushed spirits brands to innovate how they reach audiences. The values of traditional spirits brands (i.e. slow maturation and indulgence above all) may have to be reimagined to cater to new consumer behaviors.

The fashion item you kept coming back to… but really shouldn’t!

UGG boots exemplify the pandemic pivot – People are growing tired of elitist luxury brands and are instead seeking relatability, social consciousness, and eco values. Known for uber-comfy boots, UGGs came into popularity in the early 2000s but thanks to a slew of new partnerships, has emerged as a pandemic-era cult favourite.

The self-care methods you leant into

TikTok is a safe space for mental health – Watching videos of their peers going through the same problems can normalise mental health issues and help Gen Zers feel less alone.

Nowstalgia meme mindset kept people smiling – ‘Nowstalgia’ is fuelled by a desire to reimagine and right perceived wrongs. The strain of modern life is driving some Gen Zers to seek comfort in the recent past, and reimagine life to fit their values.

The travel questions on your mind, besides of course who’s on the red list…

People are still opting for staycations – Regenerative tourism is gaining traction, with brands and travellers striving to not only protect the environment and local communities but also improve them.

People are hanging out at airports – Ambivalent about drinking, starved of person-to-person contact, and eager for safe spaces to be themselves, teens are increasingly going to airport terminals just to hang out and meet new people.

People are seeking ‘eerie comfort’ in liminal spaces – Empty hallways. Vacant arcades. Photographs depicting 'liminal spaces' – that is, in-between or transitional locations – seem unlikely contenders for viral fame. Yet thousands of users are taking solace in this style of content, demonstrating the power of nostalgia as both comforting and eerie.

How cabin fever got under your skin

People opt for minimalism amongst WFH overload – Being stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to reevaluate their lives, leading some to embrace a simpler way of living by starting a vegetable garden or figuring out an effective work-life balance.

People opt for pet tech to support their pooch from the office – A slew of pet-tech solutions is cropping up to relieve pet parents of the guilt of returning to the office and to help alleviate separation anxiety.

People are feeling unhappy with their homes – Having turned their bedrooms and kitchens into offices, many Britons are feeling dissatisfied with their home environments. With hybrid, remote, and flexible working set to become the norm, brands are well-placed to help consumers create a home setting suited to their long-term needs.

Fearful of the future, people have developed ‘cave syndrome’ – A phenomenon called ‘cave syndrome’ is making some people hesitant to leave their ‘nests’ and get back to socializing.

People became interested in frugal living – IKEA’s ‘Fortune Favours the Frugal’ campaign looks to ease this angst with an upbeat take on environmental action, showing the sustainable benefits of everyday IKEA products.

The Gen Z obsession you took to a new level

WOW colour beauty emporium for Chinese Gen Z – With beauty fans adding more colour to their make-up routines, the shopping experience is paramount and this is evident among Chinese Gen Zers. IRL retail brand WOW Colour is tapping their dedication to domestically-made brands and willingness to make beauty shopping shareable.

Gen Z are dismantling the Silicon Valley old guard - Tiring of Big Tech, Gen Zers are seeking out alternative platforms. Members of Gen Z Mafia are building the tech world they want to see from the ground up.

Replika: AI friend for lonely Gen Zers – the pandemic has pushed young people’s relationship with tech to evolve, as they embrace new ways to combat loneliness and look for non-romantic companionship

The big 2021 themes you turned to us on

TikTok’s algorithm – The creativity afforded by TikTok has enabled people to express their love of books, songs, and films in novel and viral ways, helping them regain popularity. But how can brands authentically tap into the hype?

Call-out culture – How call-out culture can make brands more authentic

Inclusive fatherhood – Brands are increasingly looking to make their advertising more diverse, but why are marginalised fathers being ignored?

Fandom – what it means to be a fan in 2021and how brands can connect fans to the things they love.

DIY generation movement – the future of the maker movement and its impact.

Passion economy – why the passion economy is levelling up leisure

And some wildcards you couldn’t leave alone from the Canvas8 archives

People are still shitposting... – ’Shitposting’ gained notoriety in 2017 and its visibility has grown ever since. But what motivates young people to post irrelevant, mindless or purposefully dumb content?

Young people in Nigeria are shaping culture - As Nigeria’s economy fails to meet the needs of its rising youth population, Gen Yers and Zers are looking for ways to thrive in an unstable climate. Ditching traditional paths, many are pursuing their passions in fashion and entertainment and getting politically active to drive change.

South Korean women are resetting beauty ideals – From cutting their hair short and wearing glasses on TV to smashing their cosmetics, many South Korean women are rebelling against strict beauty standards. Online movement #escapethecorset is battling against the country’s traditional cultural ideals and highlighting other feminist issues.

India’s trans women push for cultural recognition – There are an estimated two million transgender people in India, but this group has long been shunned by society. Now, as they start to break through into the country’s cultural scene – most significantly through music and fashion – how are brands speaking to them in advertising campaigns?

This list is organized by behavior and is based on the traffic you and your fellow Canvas8ers were driving across our 30,000+ research pieces – the behavioral insights that sparked interest in the past year.

The Best of Canvas8 2021 couldn’t have happened without you, our members – thank you!

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