First, what is Janxiety? Nothing but January+Anxiety. Janxiety or January fixated anxiety is the thought of returning to your usual work and home routine after the end of the holiday season at the end of December. After all the parties, all the late nights, all the dancing, all the cheese, all the wine, all the good food and all the late-morning-wake-ups. The very thought of getting back to work, getting back to a ‘normal’ life gives many a feeling of Janxiety.
Janxiety is also a temporary sense of ill-ease that starts to build up a few days/weeks into January because of not living up to your new year resolutions. This is just about the time of the New Year when some of us get engulfed by a sense of failure … despondency on already having let yourself slide off commitments made to yourself … broken resolutions that prick the conscience and trouble the mind.
The Guardian has this to say about New Year resolutions: the ‘fresh-start effect’ convinces you that a ‘temporal landmark’ like the New Year offers you a brand new beginning, an opportunity to reinvent yourself and consign your failings to the past. But there's nothing about this time of year that makes goals easier to achieve, plus our expectations often inflate far beyond probability, leading to the most likely outcome: disappointment. Basically, you're not a failure if your New Year's resolution has eluded you - you are a human being. But most of us refuse to accept this of ourselves. There is much introspection, much self-debate, much unhappiness. All leading to Janxiety.
January is also the time of the year when maximal number of working people consider a job change. Perhaps it is all in the air. A new year, the tiredness of a past year now behind you, some introspection about how time is flying by (it is already a new year, remember) and your career is not
keeping pace. The same work desk, the same office environs, the same challenges (or the lack of them) and it is cause for Janxiety.
Somehow marketers have never really fully understood Janxiety, and used it as actually a positive opportunity for many businesses. Research worldwide shows Janxiety can be best used by the travel and tourism industry. Despite the fact that most people have just returned from a year-end break, in their current morose mood, planning the next holiday seems to be a good, and universal, mood-lifter. The very thought of going on a holiday in the near future eases Janxiety. So, advertising for new destinations, new holiday packages and new attractions is likely to work 12% better with the Janxiety-afflicted. Researching the holiday, talking about it, vicariously living the holiday in the mind brings hope and happiness. So, if you own or market a travel-tourism brand, don’t wait until end-February or March to sell a summer vacation. Use the aperture and opportunity provided by Janxiety, and cash-in. This early bird approach may actually work wonders.
Most new year resolutions are related to health and fitness. Promises to join the gym or go for a morning walk. Or to go on a diet. Or quit smoking. And invariably most new year resolutions are history by the first week of the year itself. Only 10% new year resolutions do actually ever succeed. 25% of all new year promises to the self are watered down in the first three days; by the third week of the year 75% resolutions are all but abandoned. So, what is the opportunity for brand marketers?
Given the slightly fragile mindset of the audience at this time of the year, ‘free-trial’ and just ‘trial’ packs and ‘flexi’ packs are best likely to succeed with wannabe gymers and potentially health-conscious. Options that offer a certain leeway for error, and failure. Also personal redemption. Without too much of pressure. Or angst. Or hard-sell. The important thing is not to be too pushy … there is already a guilt overhang on the customer; accentuating it could be counter-productive. But yes, Janxiety is highly cashable provided you handle it right.
The urge for a job change is actually matched in January by a desire to change or atleast upgrade one’s living quarters. Once again the stimuli are not far to seek: new year brings a yearning for new environs. Old digs give you depression and anxiety. Actually, Janxiety. So here it is: a big opportunity not just for head-hunters but realtors, home furnishers, white and grey appliances, paints, flooring brands and more. Janxiety can be eased by buying beautiful things. Things that give you comfort, solace and happiness. I hope brand marketers are listening.
Most marketers believe new cars sell more in the new year because there is a new model to sell. Actually Janxiety triggers a lot of the sales. New year, new wheels. Better self-esteem. Better self-confidence. So what if I didn’t start that new diet or go hug the gym instructor so far! Will do that too. Soon.
Janxiety is one of those under-leveraged marketing trends which is still largely under the radar of most marketers. But it is a trend that will grow in impact, and value, in the days to come. Those who take early notice will surely gain more, do more, benefit more. Every new year can therefore be a unique opportunity for brands to connect better with the customer. Even if it is fuelled by a bit of anxiety, a bit of personal failure. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Clinton and Beyonce have gone on record to acknowledge that the movement from eggnog to detox in the new year is a challenge every year but by the time they get to February the overwhelming feeling that there's too much to do and too much pressure to do it better eases out. Janxiety is a good marketing trigger. Use it. And now.
(Carol Goyal, a lawyer by training, writes on trends and changing consumer behaviour.)