Once upon a time, consumers wanted nothing more than to have exactly what everyone else had. Phrases like “cookie cutter,” “carbon copy” and “keeping up with the Joneses” reflect the mentality of just a few decades ago, when having the same products, clothing, home, and lifestyle as all of the other families on the block was the benchmark for social achievement. Standing out and being different was a risk that few members of mainstream society were willing to take. But now, more than ever, consumers seek a broader palette of options and a brand that is capable of combining varying aesthetics into one heterogeneous yet accessible product or service.
"Consumers want products that reflect who they really are, and no one is easy to label anymore. Now is the time to differentiate or die."
The American consumer no longer has a common face and name--and hasn’t for some time. Marketing to the same uniracial, monocultural consumer doesn’t account for the millions of consumers you’d be missing out on, who are searching for a real and honest fusion of art and experience. Consumers want products that reflect who they really are, and no one is easy to label anymore. Now is the time to differentiate or die.
Mashup culture might be the best example we have today of mixing it up artistically. Music is a legitimate representation of cultures and regions across the world, and each stems from their own adoration/mastery of their country’s instruments and techniques. Similar to an eclectic mix of genres within an iTunes library, the walls that once separated musical genres have been torn down. Albums by grunge-masters Nirvana are happily sitting alongside Michael Jackson’s greatest hits in the average listener’s electronic libraries, and music from once-irrelevant areas of music have gained national attention through online-sharing. Jay-Z can now rap over something as classic as The Beatles White Album (by way of artists like DJ Dangermouse) and be critically lauded. Originating in DJ culture and flourishing outwardly via file-sharing and music blogs, the mashup has become a staple in music and speaks to a higher level of cultural infiltration.
"...today’s consumer is as willing to bring their own unique history and perspective into their fashion and product purchases..."
The avid music listener, who represents one of today’s most cherished markets, embraces the idea of enjoying artists from all over the map musically and geographically, alluding to the fun in the search for, merging of, and listening experience of sonically-unique tunes. This same experience is evident in almost every market. From clothing and furnishings to recreation, food, and entertainment, today’s consumer is as willing to bring their own unique history and perspective into their fashion and product purchases as they are willing to be influenced by multiple cultures, movements and artistic genres.
The heart of the Mix it Up Macrotrend is to leverage your product to make a cohesive, contextual, meaningful connection with people from disparate backgrounds. By correlating a variety of influences, you display your brand’s willingness to be moved by other forms, and a cultural openness that prohibits you from limiting your brand to one demographic.
The need to diversify your brand indicates an important time of cultural transition that is much more significant than the contributions Design and Marketing embody. We live in a world that hopes for--and actively seeks-- connections with people and places that are different from our own personal norms. Shouldn’t your brand reflect the global consciousness that our entire world is leaning into?
Energy and excitement swarm around products that avoid expiration dates and staleness. Keeping with the idea that connectivity and sharing increases interest, you can use your brand to link cultural hot points while blurring lines of perceived difference, thereby adding a totally unique and fresh approach to your brand.