Before I started back to school last week, I decided to do a little light reading. So, I went to the bookshelf, saw Tribes by Seth Godin and figured it was about time to re-read it. The next day, I was listening to the Freakonomics podcast on education. Both started screaming the same thing to me: America is becoming tired of the factory model of life.
Cars are built in factories, with limited options available to the end consumer. Our food is grown largely by factory farms and shipped from across the world to adorn our dinner tables. Turn on the television and you will find shows that are designed by a television factory (studio) with the idea of reaching a wide audience. Most public education is done in a factory setting, with scheduled lessons delivered at scheduled times with scheduled breaks for eating and leaving.
I think that’s why the Number One Ladies Detective Agency book series amuses me so much. The author, Alexander McCall Smith, uses the term “orphan farm” to describe the orphanages in Botswana. At least his books are honest about what they are doing with the orphans!
But I digress. My belief that America, and possibly the entire world, is tired of the factory model of life is firmly rooted in the explosion of choice in our society. General Motors came into their zenith during the 1920’s by offering a choice of colors and styles for the automobile consumer, at a time Henry Ford famously stated that you could have a Model T in any color you wanted, as long as you wanted black. The state of Florida recently required that all honey sold in the state has to be locally grown. Slow foods movements, emphasising locally grown food, are starting to take firm root in many communities. Education is changing, with Waldorf Schools gaining popularity and New York City’s experiments with School of One.
Within two miles of my apartment, I have over 100 bars and restaurants, seven museums, three grocery stores, two universities, two hospitals and countless churches. I have over 200 TV channels to choose from. The entire internet and the movies it can deliver are at my fingertips. I have more than enough choice to fill my time deciding what to choose. Many people struggle with so much choice because we were, for so long, told to like it or leave it.
And now, we are beginning to regret those sanitized experiences. We demand to be treated as individuals. We demand our choice. We are learning how to deal with all of this choice.
So why do marketers continue to expect their “One Size Fits All,” communications model will resonate with the shopping public? What can the general public do to get companies to abandon broadcasting and start giving us our own experience? Let us know what it will take for you to feel “unsanitized!”