Monday, August 22, 2016

Is Gratitude, the brand power-benefit for the 21st century?

In the turbulent and long-term challenging times we live in, there is an emerging trend to see that our daily lives have people, places, things and experiences in them that are worth recognizing and being grateful for. Arguably, Millennial families are leading this charge with personal and social, value-driven, life choices.

Maybe its just the generational, pendulum swing from the acquisitive excesses of the Winners and Losers, Gordon Gecko, die with the most, inflated gold rush of the 90’s, or perhaps it’s the naturally emerging life-ethos of a generation grown to adulthood with less opportunity, less ability to build wealth, big debt and inheriting a whole lot of problems.

Whatever the cause, some of the world’s personal ambitions are turning to inward looking notions that seem more contemplative. Millennials are slowly defining a new “good life” that has a whole lot less to do with stuff and a lot more to do with building a sense of personal gratitude for a different kind of riches within their power to experience and share. It’s also fair to say that we’re all becoming more Millennial.

When times get tough, it’s natural for us to seek things and activities that are more meaningful and purposeful. The search for personal spirituality is on the rise and contemplative disciplines like Yoga and meditation are in high growth. More than ever before, we are seeking moments of peace and satisfaction for ourselves and for our families.

Evidence of the emerging role of gratitude can be seen in the explosion of discussions and posts around the subject throughout social media. (just a few examples below)

This brings me to an observation I feel is a grand opportunity. The rising role of personal gratitude, so far, is largely overlooked by brands as a prime goal. 

Some brands have managed the move from status or service to desirable experience. Fitbit is an excellent example.

Some brands reimagined focus on “the gift” they may be able to bring to their consumers can rise to become something we are grateful for. Dove with it’s real beauty campaign rises to that benefit:

But generally, few seek to engender the unique notion that is gratitude from the onset.

If we break down things that we are grateful for into it’s component parts, I believe there is a simple but profound list of attributes:
  1. It must be something that makes our life and ourselves better
  2. It must bring real pleasure and moments of satisfaction each time we come in contact with it.
  3. It must be something that repeatedly reminds us of an uncomplicated and essential truth about ourselves
  4. It must be a touchstone that grounds us in a moment, activity, time or event that we cherish

These attributes are powerful, ritualizing elements that speak to the deepest of meaning and connection for someone. 

If we were to measure our brand development, product ideation, experience design and activation planning against such measures, we might just surprise ourselves and make something disruptively new and deeply in service to the audience/consumer of the 21st century.

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