The core message of this book by Seth Godin, is “Mass Marketing is dead and its an era of marketing to wierds”. Seth clarifies the word wierd by defining as “ people who have chosen to avoid conforming to the masses, at least in some parts of their lives”. In one sense the book is a rehash of Seth’s other books There are some examples and illustrations that might motivate a reader to go over this 90 odd page book. The book starts off with an example of a zoo in Belgium.The zoo facing with dwindling crowds and hence falling revenues, pulls off a mass marketing campaign by focusing on “ A pregnant elephant”.This sort of marketing brings back the crowds to the zoo, but such examples are an exception than the rule, says Seth. He describes a few situations that capture the changing market place both in the online and offline world. Here is a sample :
I’m standing at the corner of First Avenue and 8th Street in Manhattan. Is there a more vibrant commercial corner in New York? Look, there’s the Islamic cultural center across the street, right next to the Atomic Wings buffalo chicken wings joint. Around the corner is Veniero’s, a fabled Italian bakery. I can see a group of twenty Chinese tourists out front, just hanging out. Behind me is Momofuku, a modern take on the traditional Japanese noodle bar, run by a Korean chef who grew up in Virginia. Crossing the street is a rich uptown lawyer walking hand-in-hand with a tattooed downtown kid (or maybe it’s a tattooed lawyer and a well-dressed tourist). The sidewalk is so crowded you have to stand in the street if you want to stand still. I haven’t even mentioned the place selling hydroponic herbs, the guy who sells fresh bulbs of turmeric, or the Nuyorican Poets Café, where poets, famous and unknown, come to jam while the owner heckles from the back. There are gluten-free bakeries, extra-gluten bakeries, vegan bakeries, and probably a few people selling hash brownies as well. There’s nothing going on around me that would be considered normal by a time-traveling visitor from 1965 (except maybe the brownies). Instead, there are collisions of ideas and cultures
Seth offers 4 reasons for the marketplace getting weirder:
Creation is amplified.Publish a book or sell a painting or customize your car or design a house—whatever your passion, it’s easier to do it, it’s faster to do it, and it’s more likely that (part of) the world will notice what you do. The ability to reach and change those around you has been changed forever by the connections of the Internet and the fact that anyone, anywhere can publish to the world.
Rich allows us to do what we want, and we want to be weird. Here rich means rich enough to care about choice. Richness is not measured by financial wealth in this context.
It’s easier than ever to reach particular pockets of weird people with stuff they’re obsessed with. Consider all the niche sites that are catering to the long tail and you will agree.
Tribes are better connected. One hundred and forty-one brave firefighters in Barbados belong to the Bajan firefighters group on Ning. This online community connects them and reassures them that they are normal in their weirdness. They’re obsessed about their craft, and they want to do it right. Not right by our standards (most of us don’t understand why someone would spend 80 hours a week risking one’s life for free) but by the standards of the community of firefighters.
The gradual shift in the behavior is illustrated by a caption “ Bell Curve is spreading”.
1950’s- 1960’s : Distribution of behaviors was tightly grouped
1970-1980’s : Distribution of behaviors was spreading
BELL CURVE IS GONE!
By 2010, the distribution of behaviors had spread to the point where there was more weird outside the box than normal inside it.
Now, as the curve spreads, the geeks are even geekier. They don’t want the new thing; they want the beta version. They don’t want the thing that’s new; they want the thing that’s so new that the other geeks don’t even know about it. And a geek with an eye for denim might be specializing—denim isn’t enough, it has to be selvedge denim, or even better, selvedge denim from Japan.
Seth warns people who cater to the mass by saying:
If you cater to the normal, you will disappoint the weird. And as the world gets weirder, that’s a dumb strategy.
The chance to become the next Wonder Bread/ Budweiser/Chevy is seductive, but no longer practical. The field is too crowded, and there’s not enough upside after you build a middle-of-the-road normal brand.
Average is for marketers who don’t have enough information to be accurate.
No mass. No center. Our culture is now is a collection of tribes, and each tribe is a community of interests, many of whom get along, some that don’t.
We have all become weird, our behavior, tastes and preferences, hobbies are becoming weirder. Be it in business / creating art, those who adopt a strategy of pursuing the weird have consistently outperformed those who seek to create mass.