The further from goods and services you go, the closer you get to ideology and belief. If it’s the case that the goods and services are a means to a different end rather than the other way around, the question is: what are you leading your subscribers towards?
As founders, community leaders, and shapers of these new cultures, this is the most important question we have to ask. Because we’ve seen that we’re not only creating culture: we’re producing personality in people. In other words, we’re creating types
Evangelism is a critical term for understanding this new cultural logic. While “communities” may be the term that these organizations use to describe themselves, they are frequently rich with explicit spiritual content.
As a consumer, you subscribe to one vision or another: what’s your version of hiking out doors? What type of vibe are you about? Purist? Gorpy? High intensity? Meditative? But in all cases, the branded subculture itself is the main thing, while the role of physical goods is diminished. Their job is not to drive value, but to add another layer of depth to the community, to enshrine the practices.
The Lifestyle era was not about creating culture; it was about attaching brands onto existing cultural contexts. It was not about shaping people; it was about sorting consumer demographics into niche categories. The new order we are entering into reverses this. For some organizations, culture has become the product itself, and products have become secondary, auxiliary, to the production of culture.