Humans have been tracking the stars for centuries. However, today millennials are breathing new life into astrology allowing it to coexist alongside science, giving them another language for understanding the uncertain times in which we are living. Dusting off the eclectic image of the 1970s New Age Spirituality, astrology’s aesthetic today is young, edgy and charmingly Instagramable.
A quick search through Esty or Urban Outfitters will yield dozens of astrology-themed products. Astrology memes have become a viral staple of internet culture. Horoscopes have resurfaced in online magazines beloved by millennial women such as Bustle and The Cut. Vice’s Broadly employs a resident astrologist and has its own app for ‘Cosmic Wellness.’ From fitness trackers to handbags, the astrology trend has taken on a variety of applications for brands. Irish jewellery brand, Chupi sells a collection of zodiac necklaces. Dating platform, Bumble now allows people to sort their matches based on star signs while Amazon earned some attention (and some eyerolls) earlier this year when it started sending Prime members horoscopes to guide their purchases. The “mystical services” market, which also includes practices such as tarot card and aura reading, is now a $2.2 billion industry in the US and projected to rise.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen several successful astrology start-ups come to the fore. Co-Star is a digital astrology app that hit the market in 2017. As of this summer, it had over 5 million users. Co-Star uses NASA data to map the stars and a proprietary AI to give users personalised horoscopes based on their birth chart (a snapshot of the sky at the time of a person’s birth). This April, Co-Star received an additional $5.2 million in funding to bring the iOS app to Android. Sanctuary launched in March, backed by $1.5 million in venture capital. The app gives users a short daily horoscope, a ‘power emoji’ and the option of a live consultation with an actual astrologer for $19.99 a month.
It is easy to dismiss astrology as a pseudo-science fad, but brands should pay attention. Besides being a lucrative trend in its own right, astrology’s prominence can tell us a lot about the millennial outlook on the world. It’s personalised – a quality that has translated into success for many brands. It gives people an unthreatening way of discussing deeper emotions. This appeals to a generation of people who are growing tired with superficiality. However, most importantly, astrology’s ambiguity makes it compelling. While many aspects of life today are calculated, optimised, and hyper-transparent, astrology gives people a magical escape and the freedom to interpret the grey areas of life. How can your brand tap into this consumer desire for wonder?