In 2006, TIME magazine announced “You” as their Person of The Year. To underscore the cleverness of their decision, they utilized a mirrored computer screen for the magazine cover, all the better to make the reader nod their head. Yes, by god, the consumer is in charge of the Internet!! The point of the article was that for better or worse, the consumer would be creating and processing news and information that was as likely to come from a peer as from an expert. The fear was that we would soon be awash in torrents of uneducated drivel without a clear way to determine what was true and what simply Kardashian.
Hunter, Gatherer, Creator?
Throughout time, those who could track down and capture the best, won. Post cave man, it was the social elite who could jet around the world and share with their friends the unique items uncovered in Capri or Morocco. That skill has proved equally valuable in the digital age. Those who could track down the coolest and most limited pair of Bathing Ape kicks scored the most social cred. But the parlance of digital tracking, buying and receiving has become almost remedial for the Millennial digital native. The next step? Creation. The web has now become the land of the bespoke item – a place where curation, the buzz word of 2010, is a thing of the past, but personalization is THE thing of the future. Millennials have known, from their days of being the ‘Baby on Board’, that the world will happily give them what they want, when they want it. And they don’t want Nike IDs…( sorry Gen X) ..changing the laces on their tennis shoes really doesn’t count…..
What About Me?
SO what do they want? Interestingly, it’s not a push for broad and sweeping changes, or a craving for new stores or services. Millennials are using the power of the Internet to literally create the exact items that they want. The means to do so pop up every day: whether on indiego or kickstarter, an Etsy craftsman, or a co-design shop like Lollydoodle, Threadless or ShoesofPrey , or even via shopping services such as Polyvore or Shopstyle. And if they do not want to make something from scratch, they know that they can still demand transparency, authenticity and proof of provenance from any vendor they so desire. And larger companies are already catching up with this demand. From clean and high-conscious creator sites like Zady, to behemoths such as Amazon’s Elements line of goods, the world of commerce is working fast to stay relevant and unique to a tribe of shoppers who know they can get anything, anywhere at any time.