It’s boom time for astrology. Driven by a desire for meaning and connection in an uncertain world, a growing number of younger consumers (particularly young women) are incorporating astrology into their wellness and self-care routines.
Astrologers, tarot readers and zodiac meme accounts have amassed scores of followers on social media. On TikTok, videos tagged #astrology have received more than 32 billion views. Prominent astrologers like Chani Nicholas have their own apps, books, Netflix deals and do celebrity birth chart readings. By some estimates, the ‘mystical services market’ is now worth north of $2.2 billion in the US alone and growing strongly.
This is starting to translate into a sizeable business opportunity for brands and investors. Astrology apps like Sanctuary and Co-Star have already attracted millions of dollars of investment from venture capital funds.
More recently, beauty and wellness brands have been getting in on the trend, launching astrology-themed lipsticks, beauty subscription boxes and even shaving sets. While not explicitly astrology-themed, Kate Moss’s much-hyped Cosmoss beauty and wellness range, which promises “self-care created for life’s modern journeys to make them beautiful, mesmerising and magical”, arguably taps into similar sensibilities.
So, why is astrology proving so appealing to millennials and Gen Z and what are the implications for food and drink?
Much of the current astrology boom can be seen as linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Although interest in astrology had been growing steadily before 2020 (partly driven by a continued shift away from organised religion) Covid led to many more people asking searching questions about their lives.
For some, this meant looking at work-life balance, negotiating more flexible working conditions or changing careers. For others, it meant prioritising health, spending more time outdoors or taking up a new fitness regime.
For others still, the search for meaning led them in a more mystical direction. Professional astrologers reported strong business growth during lockdown and internet searches for terms such as ‘birth chart’ and ‘astrology’ reportedly spiked.
At the same time, interest in astrology complements existing trends around health and wellness. The new generation of astrology enthusiasts sees astrology less as a belief system and more an extension of their self-care routines, a tool for mindfulness and a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety.
Astrology also fits in with young consumers’ desire for personalisation. This is the angle that big brands like Amazon and Spotify have taken on the trend, launching personalised music and podcast playlists based on users’ birth charts and experimenting with shopping recommendations based on customers’ horoscopes.
But does this mean will we soon seen a rush of astrology-themed food and drink launches here in the UK? Unlikely.
It’s no accident that most of the brand and product examples cited in this blog are from the US. Belief in astrology is simply less common here in the UK than it is across the pond. Smaller brands may well find a profitable niche among astrology-minded consumers in the UK, but at this stage it’s unlikely to be a big enough market to appeal to larger fmcg brands.
What’s more, astrology remains decidedly divisive. One person’s empowering self-care ritual is another person’s risible pseudoscience.
Challenger brands targeting specific demographics – particularly in wellness-focused categories such as teas – may well decide it’s worth the risk, but the controversy surrounding the topic will likely be enough to put off most major food brands from launching their own astrology-themed NPD.
The personalisation and marketing angle, however, could have more mileage. Last year, US spice giant McCormick partnered with astrology app Sanctuary to create personalised recipes based on consumers’ zodiac signs. Such partnerships could present a low-risk way for fmcg brands to engage with young consumers interested in astrology.
There’s also opportunity for more light-hearted takes on the trend. Earlier this year, Kraft tapped into social media interest in ‘Mercury in retrograde’ by offering mayo readings. Brands such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell have also run similar campaigns.
If nothing else, the astrology boom is a useful reminder that younger consumers can at times have very different attitudes and interests to previous generations. To stay relevant, food and drink brands must not be afraid to question well-trodden marketing and communications strategies – and be willing to try something new.
Whether astrology will shape up to be a meaningful food and drink trend beyond that is, for now, written in the stars.