Facebook is an average service built for average people. Microsoft makes products for mass consumption. Apple tries to get consumers to conform to their visions rather than the other way around. Milk company promoters have somehow made us believe that milk is necessary our entire lives.Each of these groups sell their wares to masses of normal people (or provide information for other companies to do the same). Their strength, and their profits, rely on making a lot of things for a lot of people for less money per item than it takes to make a few things for a few people.
This tactic worked for years. Lack of choice, limited marketing mediums and fear of change (few TV channels, no easily found and trusted ‘weird’ internet sites and the desire to be like our friends and colleagues) kept normal people in line. We bought groceries from Wal-Mart, electronics from Best Buy and everything else from Amazon.
Don’t think normal people are somehow bad. They’re not. They choose to be that way and often live extremely happy lives. But what about those who choose different? What about people who choose to be weird?
Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird delves into this new world of weird. He states that the mass markets aren’t going to get any more massive and the years of changing consumer behavior to fit the mean are over.
“The factory came first. It led to the mass market. Not the other way around.” -page 9, We Are All WeirdFactories all over the world are dying, even if they don’t know it yet. There’s just too much choice–too many weird people–out there to continually treat everyone the same. For someone who wears minimalist shoes, eschews (tries to, anyway) wheat and sugar and recently discovered the joy of personally tailored clothes, this is a godsend.
But weird comes with its own problems. Weird products and services, because they can’t always be made or offered efficiently on scale, cost more. And because the market of the weird isn’t quite as efficient or consistent as the typical mass market, anything produced will be in short supply. Limited edition, formerly a marketing buzzword to get us to BUY IT NOW, will soon become the default.
There are 7400 hardcover copies left of Seth Godin’s We Are All Weird and he has no plans to print any more, ever. Buy it and see how being ourselves, how being individuals, how being weird is how it almost always was and how it always will be.
Seth is offering a webinar on October 3 for anyone who buys six or more books.
(Disclaimer- I received a copy for free as part of my work with the Domino Project Street Team, but also bought a copy for my dad.)
Interesting. I’ve been thinking about something related to this topic a lot lately. I keep wondering what we can do to spur job growth, and I always come back to the same thing. Reliance on and government sponsorship of giant corporations are killing the economy for regular people. We need to decentralize our economy and allow room for smaller retailers and manufacturers.
Doing so would naturally lead to more variety for the “weird” people. Rather than a single Walmart, I’d love to see a butcher, grocer, cheese shop, etc…
Of course, the main problem in my thinking is that huge corporations often make it easy for us. I can run to Walmart and buy a TV, milk and get my oil changed at the same time. I can get just about anything from Amazon in one visit. Most people need these conveniences because our lives are so hectic. Our culture needs to shift away from the work-more-live-less malaise it’s morphed into to make my vision a reality.
Yes, and that’s a very tough shift. I work from home every day, so I’m not subject to the same restrictions, but dammit, it’s hard not to buy most stuff at Wal-Mart when it’s the closest store to my home by a long shot.
And as Godin mentions in the book, weird stuff is more expensive. It’s almost as hard to be minimalist as it is to make a lot of money and buy a lot of stuff.
I think we’re starting to realize we can’t have everything our parents wanted us to and now we’re confused about what we should have.
By the way, Fight Club makes way more sense to me now that I’m over 30.
anything niche driven is more expensive, but the crowd that wants it doesnt care because it means something to them. When I do a limited edition art print based on a scene from a Wes Anderson movie, I’ll have a dozen people or more willing to drop $20-$30 on it at a repertory screening that costs $10, whereas someone else will say why are you going to see a movie I can watch on Netflix for free and pay 20 bucks for a piece of paper?
The trick isnt getting people to change to appreciate “weird/novelties” – its too find people who appreciate a niche and cater to that niche. You arnet going to convince someone who is used to getting eating PB and J from ingredients at Walmart to suddenly appreciate artisan bread, or someone who is used to fast food to suddenly be interested in a paleo diet. Find the niche, see their needs, cater to them. Not difficult, just keep your eyes open.
You think Downtown Mesa is doing a good job of embracing the weird?