I want to be seen

This column is the last of the trends series we’ve been working through over the past several weeks. The overarching theme to the series was that our world has been in crisis for the past two years and, like every other crisis in history, it’s going to be followed by a season of great reinvention and change. As marketers, we are going to have many opportunities to capitalize on that in the coming year.

As we explore this final trend, my goal is to get you thinking about how you can take advantage of these trends as you work to serve your clients and employees, grow your businesses, and set the stage for future opportunities.

Last week we identified that people are hungry to feel like they belong and are connected to others. While this is not a new sentiment, the isolation and fear that everyone has endured over the past couple of years has certainly exaggerated how acutely people need shared experiences and hanging with their people.

This final trend is all about the opposite. The idea that I am unique and should be treated as an individual. Don’t lump me in with others. See the real me. Pay attention to the real me. Cater to the real me.

Just a reminder, the six shifts are:

  • No time to wait.
  • Simplification.
  • Creating the blend.
  • The inevitable cycle.
  • Hunger for experience and connection.
  • It’s all about me.

This “it’s all about me” trend is much more nuanced than simply wanting customized communications and experiences. But it does start there. Consumers want to be seen as individuals and appreciated for their uniqueness. They’re willing to spend more or exert more energy to establish themselves as one of a kind.

Interestingly, much of this hunger to be an individual is an attempt to fit in, as ironic as that sounds. Today’s consumer believes they can achieve a certain level of status and belonging because they stand out. Being quirky and interesting is in right now.

Another way this concept of “it’s all about me” is playing out is how people are deciding where to shop these days. Consumers want to match their spending with their values, and that’s another way this individualism is coming to life. Marketplaces like Etsy and other places where you can access one-of-a-kind items or work directly with a creator are a powerful way to pay homage to the individual.

We’ve seen a surge of interest in anything that is custom made or created in small batches. Specialty grocery items, subscriptions offering product exclusivity, and items that boast sustainability are all gaining in popularity right now. Subscriptions have also trickled into retail locations. Monthly dining clubs, unlimited coffee subscriptions and even subscription-only restaurants are popping up with greater frequency.

One of the undercurrents of this trend is a continued hunger for authenticity, especially when it comes to creating community. People want to be connected with and hear from people like them. Online communities that bring people together around a specific cause, disease, hobby or focus are growing in number and popularity.

At the heart of this trend is the need to feel seen and respected for exactly who you are. As you think about your marketing efforts, be mindful that while there are certainly some commonalities among your prospects and current clients, the last thing in the world you want to do is to make them feel as though you’re lumping them in with everyone else.

To win their business and their brand loyalty, you’re going to have to go out of your way to see and treat them as the individuals that they are.

This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.