Consumers. A boring-a55 word if you ask us, but one of fact and definition that we can’t get around using. No one is simply a consumer, and yet everyone is. The word by itself brings to mind an image of a robot, reaching for things off a shelf at eye level, staring dead-eyed at infomercials at 11 p.m., and getting hungry at the sight of a red and yellow logo. It’s like a strange rendition of Sonmi~451 from Cloud Atlas but on the other side of the cash register.
But no one, NO ONE actually operates like that, just as robot-like Sonmi ended up becoming the face of a revolution. It’s why ads after the ‘50s could not be so simple. The human psychology behind reaching a “consumer” has only continued to get more and more complicated, inundated with data for micromarketing on smaller and smaller scales. No, the word “consumer” doesn’t really cut it at all, because humans, over the last couple of decades, have taken a MAJOR shift into individuality than ever before.
Have you ever thought about why Zillennials crave the Cottagecore theme, days filled with book binding and beeswax stamping handwritten letters? (Or how this relates to a growing concern over the legitimacy of American capitalism?)
Picture picking up a book on etiquette for ladies from the 1920s. What’s (more if not totally) okay now that wasn’t before? Being gay? Wearing pants instead of dresses? NOT writing letters to invite a boy to courtship on your 15th birthday with the goal of marrying by 18?
What about picking up a book on nostalgia? Does anyone feel it stronger at such a young age than the Millennials and Zillennials that DID grow up before iPhones and witnessed the tech revolution before they were even in high school? That remember watching their mom watch 9/11 happen but weren’t old enough to process it yet? Do we really not remember it much or did we repress and internalize it, as children do when they witness something that doesn’t make sense? What about the Gen Zers now marching in the streets, seeing greater numbers of dissenters than ever before, including the flower power movement during the Vietnam War?
Mind, Body, Spirit, The Individual
What about picking up a book on wellness (or more realistically, an app)? What used to say get eight hours of sleep and follow the food pyramid and be skinny is now about work-life balance, mental health, body positivity, and going vegan for the sake of the planet. Yoga for the mind. Van life for the spirit. DoorDash for the body.
I don’t think it would be difficult to argue that more change, and more individuality, has become more prominent in the last couple of decades than ever before. And we should have expected as such, given the access to new information.
So what does this mean for advertisers and marketers?
You mean, aside from keeping ahead of trends and absorbing endless data and monitoring social pulses and algorithm changes and…?
It means individuality is more important to the “consumer” than most things, now that human identities involve things like sustainability, wellness culture, and things that can no longer be separated into political or not-political.
It means marketing journals to writers is no longer about marketing a journal to a writer. It’s about marketing the sustainability of stone-made paper to eco-conscious van life writing freelancers.
It means marketing organizational software is no longer about marketing Trellos and Asanas and Google Suites to managers. It’s about marketing a bring-your-idea-to-life workflow for the 9 to 5 worker trying to get a startup idea off the ground.
Meta-Micro, Or Something
It means holistic wellness marketing is no longer about commercials of actors in white coats telling you things. It’s about at-home allergy tests, online workout class subscriptions, and meditation/journaling combo apps that remind you to drink water too. We could go on (or you could just look at the type of companies we have case studies on).
No, consumer as a word has never cut it, but the gap in accuracy has never been so large as it is today, because individuality has never been more important or more complicated in the eyes of a marketer. In what other world scenario does it make sense that one of our best performing blogs as a corporate naming agency would be about bees?
Many still see this shift as self-obsession in every generation younger than oneself. But it’s not; you can take our word on that as a top marketing agency in Austin, Texas (and the U.S.). So what’s next? Is it possible to expect? What comes after this wave?
… Honestly? You tell us.