Waitrose, the cost of living, and the lure of the trend trap

What are trends for? In the minds of most businesses, trends are see as things to follow.  They represent the movement of the market in a certain direction, and thus to follow the trend is to follow the money. The formula is pretty basic: “X is starting to become more important to consumers, therefore if […]

“The great flattening”: A visual companion

These essays tend to be a bit wordy, so I thought I’d mix things up today with a few pictures. This is courtesy of blogger David Perell, who by chance compiled a few images the other day which directly speak to some of the trends we’ve been discussing. He calls it “The Great Flattening”, by which […]

The schizophrenia machine: How brands remake our identities

Below is number 5 in my cultural context series, following the previous ones on the post-cultural myth, horizontal loyalty, supernormal stimuli, and concentration. I hope you find it useful, or at least interesting. ___ Philosophy is one of those things that lots of people like in theory, but few like in practice.  The reason for this, it seems to me, is pretty simple: […]

The post-cultural myth, and how it permeates everything we do

We’ve been pretty technical recently, so figured it was time for another longer macro-trend piece, continuing on from the ones I did on horizontal loyalty, supernormal stimuli, and concentration. No idea if you guys are into these kinds of thing, but it’s a bit of a palette cleanser for me, so I’ll keep knocking them out as the thoughts […]

How to be truly rebellious

In 2022, there’s nothing more conformist than being revolutionary. I’ve written about this before, but I still think it bears repeating that it can be quite hard now to find brands who don’t present themselves as being in some way maverick, rebellious, and counter-cultural – even (or especially) amongst corporate giants. They all stand with […]

The polymath advantage: should we be specialists or generalists?

The debate between specialism and generalism, between depth and breadth, is quite fascinating. Generally speaking I’m inclined to think the average Western person lacks depth, at least in terms of their lifestyle.  We flit from job to job, place to place, acquaintance to acquaintance, without ever truly becoming party of the fabric of something.  Without […]

Meta, addiction, and the strategy of attention

Clearly, it’s hard to take Mark Zuckerberg seriously. This has always been the case, however it’s been particularly on display in the last couple of weeks following his awkward video announcement of Meta – the new name for Facebook’s holding company. I’m sure you’re already familiar with it, but in short the idea is for […]

Remapping the world: the rise of horizontal loyalty

It’s time for another macro-trend piece. As long time readers will know by now, these are my crude attempts to sketch some of the more subtle forces shaping the world around us.  As strategy is all about adaptation to context, it follows that we must understand our context to think strategically – and that’s what […]

Cultural imprinting: how ads really work?

Ever notice how much better it is when your favourite song comes on the radio compared to when you listen to it on Spotify? It’s weird isn’t it.  You’re driving along, radio humming away as background noise, and then you hear those first couple of beats and suddenly it’s volume up, windows down, hand beating […]

Armani, aspiration, and the decline of luxury

If we’re reductive about it, we might say there are really only two strategic levers a business can pull from a consumer perspective: Utilitarian Brand led When it comes to delivering value, these are basically the paths to do it.  Utilitarian companies offer a genuinely useful and unique “function” – for instance, the supermarket Lidl, […]