There is a major shift in values amongst younger generations towards community and sharing. The new economy, led by on-demand and peer-to-peer services like Uber and Airbnb – is redefining long-held ideals of localism and authenticity, and is reshaping consumer culture.
Take Sofar Sounds, which is a service that facilitates the hosting of gigs, shows and other artistic performances straight to its community members’ own living rooms. Since its conception seven years ago, Sofar Sounds has evolved from a small-time idea amongst friends into a cultural phenomenon spanning 300 cities across five continents.
Sofar offers a solution to a changing landscape by hoping to “bring the magic back to live music”, so says its tagline. To do this, Sofar wishes to challenge the dominant expression of concert participation and reinstate intimacy as central to the experience – and what better way to demonstrate intimacy than performing in the comfort and context of your own home?
The home is central to Sofar’s success as it represents two contradictory values that strengthen Sofar’s proposition. Firstly, the home stands for intimacy and hospitality. The home is a space where guests and inhabitants can share common ground, both physically and socially – performers and hosts are on equal footing and in neutral territory, opposing the traditional crowd/stage dynamic. Sofar invites members into its value system as “a global community”.
Sofar’s appeal is strengthened by the home’s second and contrasting symbolic value as a place of exclusivity. To become a part of the experience, you have to apply and be accepted into the fold, into Sofar’s “carefully curated audience”, much in the same way that you have to receive an invitation to be let into someone’s home. This exclusivity and mystique of secrecy makes the inside view all the more entertaining and rewarding – you discover the Sofar experience for yourself.
Sofar’s proposition not only reinstates intimacy to the gig experience, but it relocates the art and music world back into the domestic space, where all the fruits of labour and sense of community are visible and shared with all participants.
Forward-thinking brands would do well to find ways to understand these values of the new economy in order to understand their consumer and create their own communities. Firstly, they need to understand not only what their offering is, but how it is discovered and shared across their consumer base. Secondly, the small-scale values of the local are still important in a rapidly expanding globalised world – customers will still cherish the experiences that are familiar and feel closer to home.