There is a clear and growing shift within certain, still fairly narrow, segments of society from rampant consumerism to a more mindful, thoughtful approach to purchasing decisions.
This trend may be hard to see in the dark shadows of the rampant buying of Black Friday and the annual feeding frenzy that Christmas brings, however, my social media monitoring suggests that greed may be coming socially reprehensible.
Perhaps the combined concerns evolving from the environmental movement, the evidence of the harm we’re doing to our world with massive waste, and the emptiness many feel regardless of how many possessions they acquire is generating a movement toward simplicity and a culture of less vs. more.
One such example is Japanese retailer Muji. In an article published in the Globe & Mail on December 3, 2014 Nathalie Atkinson wrote:
“The orderly shelves of non-brand wares have a certain uniformity… It all combines to imply a counterpoint of consumption that seems less about wants than needs – even a display of wire storage baskets holds a promise of purposefulness.
Though for a retailer built on the philosophy of simplicity, Muji sure sells a lot of stuff. They have tapped something that speaks to the global consumer.”
On the clothing front, it appears the Muji totally embraces the notion of normcore (defined as a bland anti-style) and while that may be so, the overall ethos of the retailer is one of simplicity. That, I think, has a broad appeal to more people who are coming to accept a more minimalist approach to living and commerce.
Is there a lesson within this for the branding and design community? If you believe, as I do, that the essence of effective designed communications revolves around notions of clarity, simplicity and wit there most certainly is. My approach (and that of my design partners) focuses on defining and expressing the most relevant, compelling and emotionally-based characteristics of our client’s brand then presenting to their consumers a cohesive design program regardless of media.