Megatrend #4 Individualism
Published: 8th June 2015
Individualism refers to consumers’ increasing desire to be recognised as having ‘personal needs’ rather than being part of the ‘mass market’.
It is the growing freedom of choice expected by, and granted to, people within societies and communities, and promotes the interests of the individual rather than those of the state or a social group, as well as opposing external interference in one’s own interest by society or governments.
This increased respect for self-reliance, democracy and individual freedoms has developed a culture of ‘me first’, creating a more engaged, confident and vocal consumer, forcing companies and brands to re-assess the way they build relationships and interact with their customers.
Today’s demanding and sophisticated consumer increasingly welcomes personalised products and services in their desire to be treated as an individual, which leaves big brands vulnerable to smaller quirkier ‘unbrands’ who are agile enough to provide a bespoke offer. In fact being a big brand is becoming a definite disadvantage as consumers move away from safe, consistent brands in favour of seeking out the unique products and services that nobody else has.
The role of marketing has changed as communication between companies and their customers has become less about broadcasting mass-market messages and more about the pull of information from customers as a means of understanding their individual needs and requirements. As a result, companies who communicate directly with their customers rather than via a middle-man have a definite advantage as they are able to use this information to tailor products and services to the individual.
- Design and innovation – In a saturated consumer market, personalisation and customisation are benefiting producers looking to differentiate their offering. Brands are actively seeking out ways that allow their customers to personalise a product or service and make it bespoke to their individual needs and requirements.
- Social – Living alone is an extension of individualism as society encourages self-reliance, and this has been influential in the rise of the single person household.
- Economic – Reinforced by the changing nature of the workplace , individualism means that employees have expectations such as recognition, self-development and work-life balance which are often taking precedence over traditional factors such as pay and promotion. Rather than being treated as ‘one of the team’, employees require managers to treat them as individual people, to know their strengths and weaknesses and help them achieve their full potential.