When I rushed through my local bookstore this morning I noticed that Mark Manson’s book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’, made it to the number 1 position of bestselling english books. Eventhough Mark told me himself not to give too many fucks about pointless observations in bookstores, I couldn’t help myself from pondering about the big impact that his manifest apparently has on many book readers.
For those of you who did not read the book, nor the back flap, nor one of his blogs, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, is a hilarious self-help book that encourages its readers not to dwell too long upon those things in life, that are only ‘self-serving ego-centric” aspects of our narcissistic society. Instead of lingering on about failed careers, missed opportunities and long lost boy friends, we should be more focussed and only pay attention to those things that matter. Yes, you are absolutely right, this so called summary is quit trivial. But what is the most interesting, is the underlying message: we shouldn’t give that much f**ks about who we want to be, what talents we are supposed to have, and how happy we are supposed to be.
The Feed Back Loop From Hell
Now, that is what I, as a trendwatcher, call an interesting sign of our times. For more than a decade internet has bombarded us with the concept of “DIY Happiness” a notion that is in lign with “I-should- live-up-to-the-full-potential-of all my-amazing-talents”. The latter resulted in many ‘Marie Forleo’ like websites and conferences with names like “Unleash the Power Within”. The idea that everybody is ridiculously succesful and lives enormously fulfilling lives, has lead to the massive use and abuse of the hashtag #lovemylife. The origin of what Manson refers to as ‘the feedback loop from hell’. (i.e. the overwhelming display of happiness and joy on our SM timelines which makes us constantly aware of our own failures). He claims to “Stop making lemonade out of lemons and accept the sour of all things”(verbally accompanied by a lot of swearing).
The huge popularity of Manson’s book points to a value shift that is becoming visible also in other fields. A shift from aspiring happiness to accepting mediocrity, from worshipping the potential of self to the devaluation of ego. A trend that I like to call #whybotherisme. And if I may say so, this shift means potential trouble for everyone working in marketing and advertising (including myself). Accepting the bold fact that life in general is pretty disastrous and applying the insight, that you and me are probably nothing more than ‘average’, will influence consumer attitudes on a big scale.
5 strategies to deal with #whybotherisme and customers who, don’t give many f**ks:
- If you haven’t done this so far, let this be your final call: Never underestimate the power of the unconscious brain. Most consumers do not give a f**ck about your toiletpaper/stapler/insurance or underwear brand. They will not recall that fabulous youtube campaign with emotional pay off and lovely puppies, when rushing through the supermarket at 7PM, frantically trying to get home as soon as they can. They are most likely to navigate on mental availability and brand consistency fuelled by their unconsciousness no deliberate decision making involved here. Read Daniel Kahneman and Byron Sharp, and try no longer to overestimate the power of spiffy new packaging and brand loyalty.
- A well designed attempt to make your brand or business more relevant for your customer, may just as well make their lifes more complicated. Know your position on their priority lists. Your challenge is to downgrade your brand as far down their lists as possible. Help your consumer pay attention to those things that truly matter.
- Embrace and work with the fact that this timeframe, this crazy crazy world we currently live in, is confusing and difficult for many people, especially for the younger generation. They were taught by their parents that life can be shaped and manipulated in wonderful ways, while they met their future spouses during the summer of fear and went out on a date to a concert that did not have a happy ending. They were raised by people who called them princess and princesses, while now they find themselves in a society were cum laude obtained master degrees offer no certainty to make a decent living, at all. For many people life sucks, showing a little empathy instead of faking utopia will do your brand no harm.
- Don’t mistake the above for having the perfect excuse to get back to the good old ‘fear-formula’ in your communication. “If you are unable to get rid of those pimples, you will never get a date, your love life will never take place, in fact your complete life will probably lead to nothing… Buy C get rid of your spots and your tinder account will soon be exploding. Or: “Dangerous bacteria are constantly on the verge of attacking your family, if you won’t buy X, you might as well french kiss your labrador and sign up for a year long of stomach flu.” The Fear of Missing Out has already been replaced by the Joy of Missing Out, so pay-offs referring to potential danger wil find no solid ground in times of #whybotherism.
- Not giving a fuck implies the global decline of our willingness to pay attention. Willingness to read newspapers, or watch fake news. It is about recalibrating values, finding out what truly matters. That is why companies in the next few years will shift their focus to what gives their customers roots: what nourishes them and what makes them grow. Consumers will now be “cutting the tail” themselves. Now and in the near future they will hold the axes in their own hands to chop out off their lives what was hyped on Facebook, or served to them as ‘truly amazing’ on Instagram.
Consumers will now be “cutting the tail” themselves.
This is the time to get back to what gives us roots and that is focussing on basics and simplicity. on soil and family, on birth and old friends. Trend Intelligence is key in creating effective marketing strategies, not just as an inspiring kick-off meeting, but as a cornerstone upon which global brands can build and activate their future.
#whybotherisme is an emerging consumer trend, that will impact markets through out Europe, Latin America and North America for the next 5 years.