A lot has been written about September as a time for fresh starts. People tend to find making changes and setting goals more natural at this time of year than they do in January. The bleakness of January isn’t conducive to depriving or pushing ourselves, but in September the end of Summer signals a desired return to order and a clean slate.
But in 2022 the end of Summer brings with it a host of worries: cost of living, climate change and global conflict. So, what impact does this have on our willingness to set goals, on the types of goals we’re setting, and on our likely ability to stick to them?
Concerns over the cost of living crisis, climate change and war, when added to the average person’s general list of September worries, have the potential to feel overwhelming. However, the clean slate that the end of Summer brings is so thoroughly ingrained that, even this year, September resolutions are very much business as usual. While worries over our financial futures (and for some global warming) are bubbling away, this year’s aims are grounded in what we can personally take control of right now:
PREPPING BODY & MIND FOR WHAT LIES AHEAD
Resolution: from losing weight to managing anxiety, there’s an urge to take better care of ourselves.
Barrier: we’re all revved up but finding the on-the-day motivation (to find the time, get the energy together…) is where people fear they’ll slip up (again).
FIERCELY PROTECTING ENJOYMENT
Resolution: everyday, basic spend is being cut and major changes are being postponed, but people are determined to prioritise getting out and having fun.
Barrier: financial guilt about spending on days/evenings out, activities and holidays is growing and threatens to reduce enjoyment.
We set 3 online tasks for 20 (middle income) FastQual ready respondents:
1) Quick fire response questions about their end of Summer state of mind and intentions
2) ‘The Psychiatrists Chair’ deep dive into their aims, hopes and fears
3) Their September resolutions
Right now, people are battling to seize control of their own lives. Selling people exercise equipment, healthy food and anything wellness related is likely to be successful (possibly more so than in January) but brands which focus their efforts on helping their customers stay on track with resolutions by helping them tackle the barriers will build stronger connections. So think in terms of what your brand could do to help them maintain day- to-day motivation and manage financial guilt.
September is a time of change and, while this can be exciting, it also brings with it a bunch of worries. Will children settle into their new schools/uni, will it be possible to strike a balance between new job/study commitments and home/taking care of aging relatives/personal health issues? This September these individual concerns are added to by macro worries…
Even for those with the heaviest feelings of impending doom, September is so ingrained as a time of clean slates that it still brings with it a sense of optimism and renewed motivation. September resolutions abound and are focused on the same things as they always are.
Getting into better shape is top of the list in September after relaxing and letting things slide over the Summer. Where once the focus was largely on losing weight, cutting back on alcohol, and exercising more, people are now just as likely to include mental health, stress reduction and sleep goals in their September resolutions.
The financially difficult times ahead are going to require further sacrifices (and awareness of this is sky high), but people are just not ready to compromise on enjoying life. This is driven by both lockdown hangover and the longer-term experience culture trend.
Brands which allow people to seize control of their own lives by helping them stay on track with their resolutions will build stronger connections. Helping them cope with the key barriers will make brands feel relevant and helpful.