Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Post-consumption, as I've talked about before, is going to be the tectonic shift from price and status driven consumption to meaning based consumption. Not the crude attempts at engineering 'social meanings' that Madison Ave clumsily tries to hack into your subconscious in cheesy ads - but consumption of actual meaning, driven by a search for possibility and purpose.
This sounds pretty airy-fairy (trust me, I know). But here's a great example: The birth of industrial tourism in the Rust Belt:
"..."People are reaching back and touching their beginnings," says Stephen Donches, president of the soon-to-open National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Pa. "Where do their parents and grandparents come from? Where did they settle? What did they do for work? It becomes more of a story about people, not just objects."
The term "meaning-based consumption" strikes me as too broad. Indeed, meaning-based consumption is nothing new. Consider Sid Levy's work from the early 60s, for example. Branding is described many ways, but to my eye (and data) is probably best characterized as a meaning-creation process.
What then do experiences like the National Museum of Industrial History represent? Pine and Gilmore might argue that such a museum is an Experience product. A memory is the key value delivered by an experience product. But, as the article makes clear, the Museum offers more than a memory. The museum also offers an opportunity to connect with one's geneological past. Pursuing this theme suggests the value offering may be in the arena of identity cultivation. I say this because identity formation builds upon and emerges from a supporting social network. An opportunity to connect with artifacts linked to one's geneological past may reflect an opportunity to reconnect with this part of one's identity-supporting social network. This, of course, assumes a view of the self as a collection of multiple identities(as distinct from viewing the self as a holistic undifferentiated entitity).
Put more succinctly: identity development is the primary goal (and value offering). Identity development contextualizes meaning consumption. Meanings in isolation are, well, meaningless.
Thanks for this excellent comment. Let me ponder what you've said - i agree that 'meaning based consumption' is indeed too broad; that's why I don't post about it much!!