A common objective for many start-ups is to create a clear vision for their brand that cultivates a sense of lifestyle for the products and services they offer.
Here we examine many of the elements involved in building lifestyle brands.
The broad meaning of lifestyle represents a collection behaviors that define a sense of the self and belonging to a given time and space, en brief, a social relation.
A sense of lifestyle should typically reflect the individual attitudes, values and world-views of your diverse customers or audience.
Defining a lifestyle represented by your products, requires a number of important reflections.
The term lifestyle is a medium through which marketers endeavor to target and match customer aspirations with the products and services your brand/business offers, or to create aspirations relevant to future, new or updated products and services.
The characteristics of a lifestyle is dependent upon various factors including the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, individuality, history, ethnicity, socio-economic class, and nationality of your customers.
Lifestyle products should aim to evoke an emotional connection between your customer’s character and their desire to affiliate him or herself with your brand’s products and/or services and sense of lifestyle.
Executive leaders and their marketing teams should recognize that cultivating a sense of lifestyle does not begin or end with your products, the effort must be reflected in everything you do and how your company relates to contemporary the art, music, food, fashion, architecture and aesthetics of your time.
There are two different perspectives toward defining lifestyle products marketing teams can adopt;
1. A lifestyle that defines a product.
In this case, the product customers use are not by choice but as a necessity because of their surrounding conditions, traditions, socio-economic class, etc.
2. A product that defines a lifestyle.
In this case the lifestyle of an individual customer is define by the products he or she uses. These products typically have a greater visual appeals and attractive functional aspects.
Marketing teams should aim to produce and cultivate a melange of these two perspectives as they are intrinsically interconnected.
People are defined by the objects around them through the way they use them, and the objects around people ultimately define what they are capable of.
Establishing a clear link between the everyday needs of your customers and the benefits of your product/service requires;
Examining how your product fits into the everyday lifestyle of your customers.
Designing your product in a way that better defines or reinforces the lifestyle of your customer.
Fostering a great lifestyle brand also requires fostering a pervasive sense of identity throughout your organization.
A company that builds surf-boards and surfing accessories shouldn’t act and portray themselves the same way that a local bank does. Companies should fit into the environment they serve and the people who support and represent the business.
A company should represent it's customer base.
So take the time to understand who your customers are and what they care about, and apply that knowledge to the lifestyle your company aims to evoke and promote.
Ultimately, everything you do, how you do it, and what you believe in as a company contributes to the lifestyle that you are able to develop and grow over time.
A History of Lifestyle
When determining the kind of lifestyle brand your company would like to evoke, it is important to develop a historical perspective of the popular lifestyles that defined specific periods in history.
A brief analysis of important historical lifestyles can offer context to your marketing efforts.
Colonial Era (1600 - 1900)
— Refers to the furniture style of the colonial period, characterized by a strong English influence mixed with local available materials.
Victorian Era (1837-1901)
— Characterized by heavy ornamentation. The round ottoman, balloon back chair, and single end sofa came from this period.
Arts and Craft Movement (1860-1939)
— A response to the highly ornamental style of Victorian era, characterized by a rustic and craftsman look to products.
Art Nouveau (1890-1910)
— Highly decorative style with curvy and undulating off balanced designs mainly based on plant forms.
— An avant garde movement focused on the geometrical simplification and reassembly of objects into abstract components.
Art Deco (1920-1930)
— Geometrical & linear style, developed from an intention to simplify the elaborate Art Nouveau style and respond to the growing machine technologies.
Scandinavia Fair (1930-1940)
— First exposed at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, as a simple, clean, and lightweight style. Quality craft combined with mass production are hallmarks of the style.
Bauhaus Design School (1919-1933)
— Emphasis on straight edges and smooth, sleek, slim forms. Simplicity in design was a hallmark and shining steel was popular. Impact of First World War brought about the advent of contemporary furniture style.
Pop Art (1950– 1970)
— A strong anti-art approach, rendering what is common artistic. Pop art challenged traditional fine art and the disciplines that frame previous styles it by including imagery from popular culture, advertising and news to emphasize the banal or ironic elements of culture.
Post modernism (present)
— Style over substance. Employment of new media and materials, emphasizing the message through the product. Holistic approaches to design and manufacturing make product stylistically different. Style communicate the class, profession, aspiration and age group of target consumer groups.
Futurism (Short Term Future)
— Purpose over substance. The emphasis on the purposefulness of items in a world of scare resources, and with an appreciation for the environment as the most important element of sustaining daily life.
Interstellar (Long Term Future)
— Efficiency over purpose. As portrayed in science fiction genres focused on space travel such as Start Trek and Star Wars, the aesthetics center on what is efficient and purely necessary to sustain and support life in outer space.
Understanding the popular lifestyles throughout recent history allow for a better perspective on how to develop your company’s sense of lifestyle that fits your contemporary period.
The important take-away is to avoid not fitting in appropriately with your time.
People generally follow trends and working against that energy will not yield positive results.
There are, however, instances when companies or brands are able to evoke the style of a period other then their own. If your brand requires adopting a specific non-contemporary lifestyle, for instance the Pop Art era, be sure to know exactly who and where your target customer is, and employ all of the contemporary technology & means available to capture them.
Attributes of Lifestyle
Cultivating a sense of lifestyle can be a challenge involving a variety of different internal and external factors. Internal factors are within your control as a business leader, while external factors come from the outside environment and the market your products and services fall into.
When determining whether it is appropriate for your business to develop a sense of lifestyle, consider how closely your business’s products/service comply with the following points:
1. Objects of the day to day life
2. Not strictly utilitarian
3. Objects imparting joy, tasteful experience
4. Expressive emotional relationship
5. Avant garde
6. Niche product
8. Simple and elegant
11. Precise / perfection
12. Status symbol
13. Esteemed value
16. Cost exclusivity
17. Design language close to handicrafts
18. Technological advancement
19. Association to time and place
All of the above attributes are not required for our you product to be considered a lifestyle products. But, a majority are necessary to truly merit the effort of cultivating a sense of lifestyle for your company.
Attributes of lifestyle products experience cyclical changes as socio-economic and technological transformations occur overtime. So it is important to be aware of your contemporary environment and the direction in which it is changing over time.
Generally, owners of lifestyle products exhibit pride in the their style of living, and how the products they use enhance their life experiences.
This is a critical emotion businesses should aim to foster among their customers.
Achieving this transforms each of your customers into motivated advocates for your products and/or service and company.
Consequently, customers of lifestyle products either invest in products that suit their context and ideology, or make space in their life for a product that can enhance their lifestyle. In this way, a relationship is created between customers and the products they invest in, reflecting their ethics, beliefs, personalities, social status and habits.
It is important for business leaders to be conscious of this reality.
Customers will inevitably develop a relationship with your product/service. So it is important to reflect on how you, as a business leader, want to manage that relationship, and what ethics and beliefs you would like to promote.
Creating a lifestyle brand takes time and commitment, and successfully cultivating a sense of lifestyle often requires pivoting branding/marketing efforts until the right balance is achieved between the desires of your customers and the objectives of your company.
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