1.5 Scaling the temple
In order for a future resilient temple construct to work at scale, it will need to scale.
Scaling any brand is easier said than done, and it requires the perfect storm of the right market, a growing audience, brand advocacy, the right product (in the right spaces at the right time), the right creative and a healthy dose of luck.
There is no guarantee this formula will always work, but in this article we’ll look at how this might play out for psychedelics.
Niche to mass
As with any new product the market will, in its infancy, appeal to a very niché section of society.
Public perception of psychedelics is undeniably starting to shift, however it is still early days when it comes to awareness and engagement.
Psychedelic retreats are also expensive, with prices going from €1200 to tens of thousands. Sessions require multiple team members to facilitate the full experience, groups tend to be small and it seems unlikely that this will be the way that the future temple construct plays out at mass. Instead, if it is to succeed, it will be the digital space where the highest connectivity happens.
Create a movement
To truly scale our construct we need to create momentum; a global movement connected through a common cause.
Rapha is a brand often referenced in the studio when talking about such a challenge. Their purpose is clear: ‘To inspire the world to live life by bike’. It’s a distinct call to action that rallies like minded people to join their movement.
They celebrate the highs and lows of the pursuit of cycling, and never shy away from the uncomfortable — summarised beautifully in their book ‘Kings of Pain: Masters and Convicts of the Road.’
A distinct visual world
We have seen in recent years a comparable trajectory with the practice of meditation. What was once seen as a religious practice, or something for ‘hippy types’, has exploded into a widely accepted endeavour across all walks of life.
With this explosion in popularity, the market has become increasingly saturated as brands look to carve out their share of a market projected to be worth around $20bn by 2029.
This saturation has meant that brands have needed to focus on finding ‘their people’ across all sections of society. Luxury meditation retreats have by no means disappeared, but the digital world is where the big numbers are being realised; allowing people to participate on their terms and brands to communicate with global audiences 24/7.
Headspace is one of the big winners in the meditation space.
The brand had a clear understanding of their product and what a global construct could look like at scale, creating a highly visual, fun, accessible world around meditation and wellbeing that speaks to adults and children alike.
Visually, they avoided all of the predictable design cues around meditation, avoided cultural appropriation, and carved out their own personality that catered for a mass audience.
The use of illustration and animation meant that their visual language could avoid alienating demographics, and they could pivot seamlessly between functional and metaphorical concepts. And in a world of stock images of westerners in gym wear and lotus positions, this approach worked as an attention-grabbing step change.
For many, this visual approach broke down the stigma attached to the practice and encouraged them to try it.
Its bravery paid off with the app valued at an estimated $3bn in 2021.
The obvious angles for brands operating in the space is to either focus on the visual effects of the drug, playing with colour, geometric shapes, dreamy photography etc., doubling down on the scientific and clinical approach, or leveraging the beauty of the retreats themselves for those brands that have physical spaces.
However, when the market reaches a point of maturity, a well timed, well executed, unique approach to design that truly understands its target audience will see big returns.
Virtual reality meets altered reality
The potential for virtual reality to facilitate psychedelic experiences is massive — and the tech is only going to get better.
The ability for someone to put on a headset, and be taken on a guided journey with visual and audio enhancements is a huge visual space for brands to play in.
And then there is the opportunity to bring people virtually to your retreat, opening up the market at significantly lower price points. We’re already seeing this technology used for gigs and sporting events on the platform and we’re likely to see this kind of immersive experience becoming a real growth area in VR.
Tripp is a brand already starting to play in this space from a meditation stand point and reportedly has plans to branch out its offering to psychedelic therapy. A $11.2m investment would suggest there’s at least a few other people that see this as a space to play.
Creating the brands of the future in this space will be no small feat, but it certainly feels like the rewards will be plentiful for those that succeed at the right time.