A global shift toward individualism has led to a surge in side businesses and a renewed appreciation for what makes people unique.
About This Trend:
Historically, societies could be categorized as either “collectivist,” or valuing family and group goals over the individual, or “individualistic,” meaning they generally celebrate individual achievement and encourage people to rely on themselves and their immediate families. A very simplified way to categorize countries this way was to identify the East as collectivist, and the West as more individualistic. Now, research has identified a rising wave of individualism across the globe, and this shift is shaping new attitudes toward what makes people unique, turning quirks into an asset that nurtures company culture and inspires successful businesses.
Today’s teenagers, or Generation Z, are starting to define themselves less by what is “cool” and more by what makes them different, nerdy, and different. Exposed to a blend of cultures from a young age, they have global social circles, care about the world, and have access to opportunities for engagement with people whose interests and passions help them create their own unique identity.
This trend has spilled over into corporate culture, as business leaders are beginning to celebrate the individual achievements of their employees, make use of their own quirks to connect, and show that they stand for something in a human way that generates emotional connections with customers.
Stories & Examples
- Popular online arts and crafts marketplace Etsy’s campaign “Difference Makes Us” featured an assortment of unique and quirky products sold directly to consumers by artistic enthusiasts.
- Products with a personal touch are also selling big. Etsy has more than 25 million buying and selling members, and the marketplace typically has around 40 million items for sale at any given moment, with buyers and sellers in nearly 200 countries.
- The interest group for Americans 50 and older, AARP, publishes a frequent stream of articles and advice on how to make money on a side project involving their passion.