Saturday, March 15, 2008

Individuality in a Consumerism Age

There's a trend that is sweeping this consumer driven world. It seems that individual people are tired of following trends that were decided upon by others last year. They want their trends now, and if they don't like what they see, they will set these trends themselves. Being unique is truly in fashion and there is an unlimited supply of products out there to allow you to be you. If you can't find them, then you can create them yourself. The consumer is in power more than ever before.

With the advent of instant communication around the globe, it no longer takes months and months for fashion to spread. It can now be an instant phenomenon. Price itself doesn't even seem to matter any more. Who cares if you have the latest designer name of some outfit or purse? The designers have realized that they can make tons of money by "slumming" it in discount stores. Designers are making great amounts of money selling to the masses instead of a social trendy elite. These designers will start feeling the competition from the "average at home designer" soon. Technology is always advancing and no profession is safe from the democratizing of product creation. It's becoming too easy to beat the "who you know matters" system and get out there and make a name for yourself.

In our time we are seeing the ability of a consumer to customize the products they are buying to meet their own personality and needs. Nike now lets you customize shoes on-line with your own color choices, graphics and wording. M&M's allows you to order the candy with your own saying on it. For years now we have been able to order numerous products sporting our favorite photographs. We can even publish our own books now without having to worry about rejection from a publishing house. When "at home 3d printing" goes mainstream then all bets will be off. When products can be designed in a persons living room and manufactured within someone else's via the Internet then the whole of the economy will change. In the age of individually created products targeting a highly individualized niche, the big players will be feeling the pain.

In a world where traditional advertising is in direct competition with widespread "word of mouth", blogs and opinions by single individuals who have the power to change large numbers of consumer's choices, the landscape of marketing goods has changed. We are on the verge of a radical change in the way that retail works. Products will be designed more and more by people at their homes and sold to niche markets that fit within the personality type of the creator. No longer will mass media or conglomerate marketing sway culture.....individuals and complex interaction of unique minds will truly generate the landscape of society.

Create your own Nike product
Future Thoughts On-Line Store
Custom M&M's
3D Printing - Ready to go Main Stream


rene said...

We definitely see a development in individual design. People show up in our design workshop with sketches and photo's of objects they want to be made. We use 3D printing to make prototypes to discuss form and if possible function. New materials in 3D printing let us design objects with a cerain kind of freedom of form.


General Fabb said...

If you're interested in following the news on 3D Printing and digital fabrication, you might consider reading our blog at Fabbaloo or

csven said...

This topic is one I've been giving much thought over the past ten years, since I first made the mental connection between the rapid prototyping machine we were using to "print" product models and (of all things) Quake's 3D level creation software which some CAD people were playing with at the time.

One current discussion that might be of interest is the one I started on the Product Design Forum, since "individual design" is very much part of the issue. Would be nice to have some additional people join in the conversation (no, I'm not affiliated with PDF; blatant self-promo sucks imo).

Here's the link: Is Unreasonable Design Arrogance Hurting The Profession?

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