6 February 2015
It’s Saturday morning and I am wrestling with one of the life’s big questions… am I lumbersexual? No, I had no idea either. Anyway, do I have the required combination of outdoorsy look and townie lifestyle? (stay with me; this is relevant, I promise).
Let’s see, I have the back pack (but apparently not a properly authentic one), the beard (even if I can’t bring myself to go for the full ZZ Top), I love a craft beer or two and I recently bought a check shirt – hey, I’m on my way to being fashionable. That just leaves the boots and there I am, my style neatly defined by a throwaway article in a newspaper. None of this makes me Jared Leto (the Giant Redwood of lumbersexual, so to speak) or even Jared Leto’s long lost window cleaner but I am nearly on trend, even at my age.
How does the fact that a few people stop shaving and give up using man bags become news? Why has a newspaper picked up on this fashion? Is it a purely a social phenomenon which as a by-product will sell more checked shirts and back packs and a lot less shaving gel, or is it a much more commercial enterprise driven by marketing?
What came first? The marketing push or the Hoxton fad? Is it because of a hit film or the look of film stars? Is it the catwalks and the style editors? Or is it those sneaky, manipulative marketing types who just want to sell more hiking boots and plaid shirts?
It comes down to a fundamental question: does marketing reflect society or does it lead it? Are we all being manipulated or are we, the consumers, in control of what we buy, when we buy it and how we buy it? The truth is not as clear cut (or even clean shaven) as we would like. Because marketing sits at the centre of organisations, government and customers there are many different influences and environmental impacts to consider.
There is nothing more interesting or as unpredictable as human behaviour. Why else would some people pay £100 for a beanie hat and others pay £3? And both consider that they have got good value. Smart marketers know that the more they understand about how we are likely to behave as consumers, then the more successful they will be as marketers.
Discussing and developing our understanding of issues like these is one of the things we get up to in the postgraduate marketing group (impressive, eh?). Personally speaking, I think it makes the study of marketing more interesting than, say, economics. We deal in the uncertainty, the grey areas, the imperfect, the irrational, the ‘system one’ bit of the brain (to reference the brilliant Daniel Kahneman) and not the certainties of demand curves and models of perfect competition.
And you thought it was just about the 4Ps and a bit of action on Twitter. Oh no, my friend, marketing is the path to deeper enlightenment. Think of that next time you are stroking your beard while wearing your new Filson jacket and wondering if buying a chainsaw is taking things too far.