(Image by Alaver)
Walpole asks if we can we expect the rest of the decade to be as exciting and dynamic as the Roaring Twenties?
It’s a seductive thought that’s been aired quite frequently over the course of the pandemic, understandably driven by business desperate to see a silver (luxury) lining in the misery of it all.
And it’s not going to be plain sailing. The UK economy still faces major challenges despite return to ‘normality’.‘ Freedom day’ was supposed to bring business as usual but Nando’s is out of chicken and carmakers are low on chips.
‘Confident forecasts for an unprecedented boom in consumer spending, fuelled by more than £200bn of household savings built up during lockdown, feel wide of the mark after most Covid restrictions ended – the supposed moment for their release.’ Source. The Guardian.
But the Jazz Age is irresistible click bait. Romanticism, surface allure, Gatsby, and all that jazz of course.
Brand marketing, consumerism and mass culture was created.
In the commercial world, brands, copywriting, design, messaging, and experiential marketing (thanks PT Barnum) were all harnessed or discovered to the greater good of brand creation, development and growth.
The luxury brand sector was born. In truth it never went away (see earlier blogs on luxury’s ability to adapt and survive throughout history)
The 1920’s spanned the end of WW I, the birth of woman’s suffrage, Prohibition, and ended with the Great Crash of 1929—years of cheap gin and, for the young, rebellion.
Cole Porter got it: “In olden days a glimpse of stocking/Was looked on as something shocking,/But now God knows,/Anything Goes.”
The modern economy sprang to life. The sheer inventiveness was amazing. Everything moved: the assembly line…
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….the car, radio, films.
It was the decade of art deco, Chanel, Walt Disney, electric appliances and the Harlem Renaissance.
So will history repeat itself? Will boom psychology set in?
Signs of pent-up demand are there. Reviews of gigs are full of ecstasy of just being there regardless of the music. We want to socialise again though many, it appears, are still fearful.
The bull case for a repeat of the 1920s is that lockdown has accelerated technologies such as videoconferencing and digital commerce that will keep paying dividends long after the virus has gone.
McKinsey & Co. says a global survey of executives revealed that they were a “shocking” seven years ahead of where they planned to be in terms of the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their companies’ portfolios.
What’s hard about forecasting technological progress is figuring out where we are on the adoption curve.
Bearish forecasters say labour-force expansion and gains in schooling don’t match those of the 1920s, and IT and biotech breakthroughs, while impressive, don’t measure up to the transformative, general-purpose technologies—electrification and the internal combustion engine, to name two—that powered growth a century ago.
As Peter Thiel famously said, “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
For the average American, life changed more from 1920 to 1929 than it’s likely to change from 2020 to 2029. Electricity gave us fridges (instead of ice boxes), washing machines (instead of washboards and hand-cranked wringers), and radio (instead of your sister at the piano).
The internal combustion engine came into its own in the 1920s, powering transport. The car meant investment in roads and suburbs as well as production of rubber, steel, glass, and oil.
Maybe the 1920s roared because technologies that had been around for several decades were finally ready for mass deployment. That may not be the case today.
The dark side of the 1920s
Yes, it was time dominated by optimism but not everyone had a good time…
Prosperity for sure for many, but also rising inequality of income, wealth and deepening divisions in society.
Prohibition, which took effect in 1920, drove a wedge between “drys” and “wets” and fuelled organised crime.
Nativism (favouring inhabitants already living in the country over immigrants coming to the country) flourished during the 1920s.
The Ku Klux Klan revived itself. It broadened its focus to include anyone perceived as different from the white majority.
It was a decade of sensational crimes, dramatic trials, and executions, all of which were reported in colourful detail in the new tabloid press.
The need for thoughtfulness
Introspection wasn’t a strength of the Roaring Twenties.
In our age of therapy and the examined life we are more equipped to see the patterns, context and motive in human behaviour.
And that includes the luxury brand customer, which post-pandemic, needs thoughtful creativity.
Which is what Anew does.
From music, media, wine and climate-tech to food, fin-tech, fabrics, famous brands and start-ups, and many more in between, we deliver what makes iconic brands more valued.
Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we deliver what makes iconic brands more valued.
You can read more about us here
And if you’d like to discuss a potential brand strategy project, do get in touch