We've been out meeting people in various parts of the US. We have visited the homes of cat owners in Nashville and Florida and online shoppers in New York. Here are some of our observations about the places, people and brands we discovered.
- The diversity of culture and identity across the US is often under-represented. Florida and New York is a wonderful patchwork of differing landscapes and ethnic groups. New York continues to challenge conformity and stereotypes – the rule is there are no rules when it comes to identity and self-expression. Whereas the people of Nashville - whether you have lived there your whole life or moved to take a job opportunity - share a cohesive sense of pride in its culture and music history
- Whether you live in Beverley Hills, Tampa, the Bronx or Upper East Side, people talk about needing to ‘hustle’ to get by. This is part and parcel of the pursuit of happiness. It may be hard and it may not always work out, but as American Novelist Truman Capote put it “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour”.
- There is a strong emphasis on doing what’s right by other people and animals. Whether it is student-led protests following the shootings in places such as Florida, an online movement such as MeToo, strangers helping one another (and their cats!) to escape Hurricane Irma or the backlash against selling pets online for a profit, Americans are speaking up and standing up for what’s right.
- Casual street fashion is celebrated and valued over European high end designer wear. It plays directly into a culture that refuses to be limited, held back, stifled, or even silenced for being yourself and standing up for what you believe
- High customer service standards are beginning to be translated in the digital space. Nordstrum, Zappos and Everlane are seen as rare examples of successfully translating the US attitude to customer service online.
- Back in the home, the nurturing relationship with pets is a wonderful antidote to daily life and people’s increasingly blurred online/offline existences. Pet ownership highlights how, despite our differences, we all share an ability to love, foster relationships and widen our families beyond our blood ties and geographical trajectories.
The States may be united, but Americans love to celebrate their differences
In summary, while the States may be united, Americans love to celebrate their differences. Carving out a strong sense of identity and pride is important for people. Opportunities for brands to engage can come from better understanding:
- People’s history: where they come from and the journey they have been on - Their future: where they want to get to, how they plan to get there, how they can ‘hustle’ and how they define success - Their values: the ones that define who they are, their relationships and how they see the world
For a short, thought-provoking film challenging the stereotypical view of the average American, it’s worth checking out John Cena’s video for the ‘Love Has No Labels’ movement.