A Disruption in Values and Identity
There is a cultural shift going on that is so potent that no brand, corporation, or organization will be able to stand without understanding it. No one is exempt. Nothing is off limits. Everything is effected.
We are living during the greatest lifestyle and social renaissance in history. Urban societies have found a new global identity. Cities like London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Berlin are part of an expanding global society within reach through the virtual sense of the web. It’s not just technological advancement, but cultural innovation that is driving an evolution of the human spirit, mostly seen in current generations. Increasingly, it is becoming a shared language of culture, music, food, fashion, the digital arts, and a community that is more inclusive.
This article is the first in ‘The Birth of the New Urban’ series to explore the context and internal landscapes of the most powerful new psychographic in the world. In these articles you get a cross-section of topics and perspectives that discuss strategy, tactics, execution, results and analysis for gaining or maintaining market share in a rapidly evolving new urban youth market where the consumer is leading the change as much as brands. Understanding and speaking in the idiom of this new urban culture is critical to iconic brands and marketers because this is the new general marketplace.
What brand managers, marketers and content creators are experiencing is a market roiled with rapid change spurred by technology, changing consumer consumption habits from acquisition to experience, geopolitical turmoil, emerging market slowdown, currency fluctuations and an overstored retail environment ill-equipped to deal with e-commerce and mobile. What this business situation calls for all brands – is a reset, pivot, evolution, whatever, but change is needed to better understand and anticipate the 21st-century new urban consumer mindset.
This group is worn out by the previous social construct and control dramas around music, politics, education, and traditional business. Instead it’s members have launched the Do It Yourself movement, the re-cycling of Pop Culture movement that cherishes vintage, classic & retro, the sharing economy, the gifting economy, the collaborative, co-creative movement in the arts, and a consciousness movement based upon a new set of life enhancing values giving birth to trends in sustainability, organic plant based foods and corporate social responsibility. Its members are creative, ambitious and technologically savvy in a way that no generation has been before. This leading youthful segment operates with a shared set of social and cultural values and markers that transcend borders and localized trends.
The internet is changing how people search for new products, services and brands. All brands and companies have become far more transparent since the arrival of Google search. Every brand is part of on-line discussions, blog posts, press reviews, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook posts, tweets and other forms of social media sharing. In addition, competitive dynamics creates a shifting panorama of brand positions as consumer attitudes and tastes change. Manufacturers, service providers, advertisers and marketers want timely, incisive and actionable strategies to tap into and follow the pulse of the youth segment of the market. What these providers currently have is research on youth buying behavior, attitudes and demographics.
What none of this research provides is an understanding of why the New Urban consumer makes the choices they do in the ever changing landscape of products, services and brands. Brands want to capture and retain these “young” consumers with the goal of keeping them loyal for life. In order to do this they must understand the underlying values and emotions that drive the choices these consumers make. It is the underlying values and emotions we all hold that reveal why we make the choices we do.
The New Urban Values: UI Culture has commissioned a large-scale brand usage, attitudes and values study available in early spring 2017. In setting up this study we know that the New Urban Consumer is characterized by a set of values and an aspirational identity that young people everywhere are attaching to themselves. In a nutshell, we know from working intimately with them that this group of young consumers are concerned with living life more fully in more positive, energetic and intelligent ways. The are sophisticated in their tastes and authentic in their relationships, ultimately searching for more significance and meaning in their relationships and life experiences.
We believe that the mainstream media has not caught on to these New Urban values and sensibilities yet as is evident from scanning the range of entertainment content and advertising that is attached to media brands today. We also believe that brands and corporations that don’t understand this New Urban spirit and mindset will become increasingly irrelevant to these consumers. Given a choice we believe consumers will choose brands that demonstrate more meaning, significance, identity value and heart and soul.