Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Identity and Differentiation

I have a thesis that a lot of consumer purchasing is driven by the genetically driven need to be different and reproduce. I noticed this because I was reviewing multiple surveys of what types of online activity correlated with different ages. After looking at all the data, the first idea that popped into my head, was that the different online activity by user was largely driven by age. And that it was more important than any other variable. The data showed very clear patterns of online activity by the year for a human.

And interestingly, online activity changes very significantly at the time of puberty in humans. As the realization of sexual and mental changes occur in the mind, there is probably a need to stand out as unique, different, and "special." A competitive sport really. That drives a lot of consumer purchases to fulfill those needs.

Originally, not a lot of different types of consumer material goods were necessary. Probably because there weren't that many humans in your small social tribe to compete with to reproduce with mates. People in tribes could probably just take very archetypal personalities. And get along fine and reproduce.

But along came the 20th century. The role of cities exploded in value. And that lead to many people getting continuously pulled into the cities. And what better initial way to stand out than with very visual material goods. For example, maybe this is how fashion got started. As cities were just scaling, the fashion industry was born to highlight personal status.

If you catch my angle on this, you can see where I am headed to next.

We are about to see the biggest explosion in new consumer product and service creation ever.

The rise of the internet and social networking and having an online life, will bring even larger amounts of people together into online clubs. And they will need to differentiate. Its the reason why MySpace grew and Friendster stalled. That MySpace allowed for the easiest and best personalization features. And its the reason why people will need more online "things" so that they stand out in the online world. And probably the offline world too.

If I had to guess (how I really secretly think), we are on a near vertical rise in the rate of consumer product creation. And this is incredible news for innovators and inventors that really understand the structure, hierarchy, and detail of human needs.

Bring forward your idea. And I will back you.

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