I saw a presentation about this today. It’s about how the super-rich worldwide form a single, relatively homogenous ‘tribe’ with attitudes very different from previous rich people. There’s a summary here: http://the-internationalist.com/trendsetters/Trendsetter_9-15-2013_more.html - and a picture of the guy who came up with it.
Here’s the crux of it.
"According to the research,
- Mobility once prioritized portability; today it is the freedom to explore the world.
- Success was once about what was passed down; today it is about the things you create yourself.
- Status once meant collecting rare objects; today it is experiencing and sharing rare stories.
- Belonging or networking was once exclusive and alienating; today there is more value in inclusion.
- Consumption was once opulent and ostentatious; today it is more purposeful and meaningful.”
Ignore all the stuff about “X was once…”, and look at the ‘now’ stuff. “Explore the world”, “Things you create yourself”, “Experiencing rare stories”, “Inclusion”, “Purposeful and meaningful”.
Those things might look familiar to you. They did to me. They’re all traits you see turn up quite often in pieces about Gen Y, ‘millennials’ or new ‘digital native’ consumers more broadly. There’s a broad agreement in these studies and pieces about what makes rich people interesting and what makes young people interesting.
This confluence of supposed attributes and motivations is intriguing to me, because while a lot of rich people these days are young, they certainly aren’t all young, and while a few young people are rich, they certainly aren’t all rich.
So why do marketing people and planners say broadly the same things about them?
A number of possible explanations present themselves:
- It’s sheer coincidence (or I’m overdetermining it)
- This really is how rich people think and the only young people marketers really care about are also (relatively) rich.
- This really is how young people think and the only rich people marketers really care about are also (relatively) young.
- There is a broader global shift in attitudes going on such that any given study of any subgroup will pick up basically the same aspirations and shifts.
- These attitudes are what sound good and socially acceptable in quantitative and qualitative research, i.e. claiming them makes you sound like a nice human being not a greedy dickbag.
- These attitudes are what researchers, planners etc. find admirable (or perhaps identify with themselves) so they project it onto enviable groups (the rich or young).
- These ideas are what researchers, planners etc. know will get them repeat custom and/or book deals.
- These ideas already HAVE got people book deals and repeat custom and are now circulating as mix’n’match memes about modern living, forming a kind of path of least resistance whenever a study gets written.
- Rich people and young people are special and I am horrible and cynical.
I am inclined to think that 4, 6, and 8 have elements of truth. Maybe 2 aswell. 9 is of course also half correct.