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got imagination? … musings on trends, mating and marketing

Waiting at a stoplight the other day, my eyes scanned the scene and I saw — yet again — one of those “got whatever?” mimic-The-Dairy-Council ad campaigns. I sighed a big sigh and thought, “Oh my, sheep-like mentality does indicate lower intelligence levels …  less chance of breeding … and less chance of attracting vibrant customers.”

See, on a  summer evening last year, I was walking on a pretty tree-lined street in DC with a guy friend I’ve known for a couple decades. His name is Rimas. Some young things, midriffs bared, all wearing some form of pink clothing (the color of the month), walked by. I asked my mid-to-late-40s friend if, genuinely, he found this attractive. I was curious.

What ensued was a most delightful conversation (hence, the two-decades-and-counting friendship) about trend adoption, deep and subtle attractiveness of a mate, and some interesting information about marketing and catching trends.

To Rimas, he did not find trend-drenched women attractive because it meant they were mimickers: women who saw what everyone else was doing and adopted trends to fit in. Rimas found women on the fashion edge more attractive (edge as in “leading edge” as opposed to edge as in inked heavily, socially aggressive and overtly trying to be different while looking like everyone else trying to be different.) Anyway, Rimas found early adopters of a trend — edgy women — more attractive because, he believed, on some deep level that type of woman was demonstrating a higher awareness of her environment, a higher intelligence and in some core sociobiological way, a higher capacity to react and adapt quickly to an environmental change. Think caves and gathering berries, and all of a sudden this sounds like a nice survival tool to be packing.

So why the musings from me? Well, heck: By the time carpet sellers, the local landscaping firm and the chamber of commerce are using the “got whatever?” concept, it’s time to not use it. Lest one look like one is lacking even an iota of imagination. Unless, of course, one’s core customer base is primarily kinda low-level, low-intelligence mimickers themselves, which it might very well be.

I guess the issue then becomes what does a company wish to communicate about itself? If it wishes to communicate awareness, ability to adapt quickly to customers’ changing needs and wants, and intelligence behind their product/service and some thoughtfulness in how they run their business, then perhaps the Mimic Marketing Method is not the most effective.

Perhaps there are businesses that just want the lower end of the customer base. Kmart vs. Target comes to mind . Put the two of those retailers — both catering to customers who want lower-end prices — side by side in the marketing realm and whose stock would you rather be buying? (If one were the stock-buying type, that is.)

Confused about what to do?

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