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Lifestyles evolve and Euromonitor has just published the 10 trends list which will mainly impact lifestyles (and consumptions) in 2012: awareness, sustainability, health and technology are the keywords.

http://blog.euromonitor.com/2012/02/top-10-consumer-trends-of-2012.html

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One of the first American working papers to illustrate different lifestyles through several variables  like consumers’ attitudes, interests and opinions.

LifeStyle_Analysis

According to Kellogg School of Management’s 2011 study, the human need of self-expression is not unlimited, and it can be met.

Despite confirming that brands, and specifically lifestyle brands, have a leading role in this dynamics, the authors also point out that the same need can be met even through “unbranded” behaviours and self-expression techniques.

The consequences for those supposed to manage a lifestyle brand are controversial: on one side, a lifestyle brand is more likely to win the comparison with the competition in its market segment; on the other one, it will have to fight within an extended competing arena, beyond brands, including unbranded behaviours and self-expression techniques.

Competing_for_Consumer_Identity_JM_2011

L’utilizzo del concetto ‘stile di vita’ di risalirebbe al celebre testo di Thorstein Veblen “The Theory of the Leisure Class” (1899) e al filone di studi di Max Weber sul concetto di status. Il termine ‘stile di vita’ è stato poi ampiamente utilizzato e diffuso da Alfred Adler, medico austriaco, fondatore  della scuola di psicologia individuale. Secondo Adler ogni individuo ha il suo proprio, unico, irripetibile stile di vita con cui abita il mondo e lo interpreta con originalità.
Oggi il termine ‘stile di vita’ suggerisce un modello al quale le persone associano schemi di relazione, comportamento e consumo.
In questo senso la definizione forse più semplice ed immediata di stile di vita utilizzabile nel management è ancora quella che risale agli anni ’70 proposta dalla American Marketing Association per cui lo ‘stile di vita’ e quindi di consumo di un individuo riflette le sue attitudini, i suoi interessi e le sue opinioni.

The American Marketing Association formulated one of the first definitions of ‘brand’: “a name, term, drawing, symbol or any other sign indentifying the good or the service of a seller and helping distinguishing it from others’ “.

Years later, D. Aaker gives a similar definition: “the brand corresponds to the identity of a specific product, service or business”.

The topic received large constributions both from academic and communications environments; communication professionals started from the brand as the identification of a system of offer to get to the gradual definition of the contents of the brand, an offer system, have gradually defined the contents of a brand spliting them between tangible and intangible.

The French researcher J.N. Kapferer states:”…if a product brings a specific benefit, the brand adds further value”; the brand is therefore an intangible added-value which sum up to the tangible features of the product.

According to the American pioneer of branding W. Landor, the brand is “the sum of the tangible and intangible features that make an offering unique”. He believes  the brand is simply the promise of an exclusive benefit to consumers, supported by rational and emotional elements.

Ever since, the definitions of brand have more and more highlighted the symbolic content of the product, rather than the functional. To a greater extent than America researchers, European ones underlined the brand’s role as a sense engine. Kapferer has highlighted how, beyond the traditional role of identification for the product’s origin, the brand acts as a warranty in guaranteeing the continuity of the level of quality which is offered. According to the Italian academic Semprini the nature of the brand is a sort of “semiotic engine” able to give birth to “possible worlds”. This brand peculiarity turns out to be strongly helpful in the symbol-intensive segment where the brand acquires a conversational, collective, social and public value.

The use of the “lifestyle” concept brings back to Thorstein Veblen’s writing “The Theory of the Leisure Class” (1899) and to Max Weber’s studies on the status concept. The term “lifestyle” has been widely used and spread by Alfred Adler, the Austrian phisician who founded the individual psychology school. Adler states that every individual has his own, unique, lifestyle which allows him to live and interpret world.

Today the term “lifestyle” suggests a model to which people associate schemes of relationship, behavior and consumption.

In this sense, the easiest definition of lifestyle for management is still the one given in the ’70s by the American Marketing Association: lifestyle, and therefore consumption behaviours, mirror the attitudes, the interests and the opinion of the individual.

This blog proposes a consideration on symbol-intensive brands and, in detail, lifestyle brands.

Despite symbol-intensive brands belong to different industries and competitive environments, they share the common aspect to offer customers symbols and insights rather than simple products or services. These brands take a part in our life, enliven urban environments, turn their creators into legendary personalities, make the product iconic, nurture legends and memorable stories.

Our aim is to talk over them in this blog, extensively analyzing their lifecycle: origin, growth and related key facts, product strategies, communication and distibution patterns, impact on people’s life.