Selling exclusively New Age these days is a formula for going broke. The true market for the educated consumer is a subculture, a whole way of life, not just a market segment. That subculture, defined by its interest in spirituality and psychology, is your half of the market: 25 million adults.
These people are also the affluent half. As Bill Horwedel pointed out in NAPRA Review last fall, there aren't enough dyed-in-the-wool New Agers (about 5&endash;10 million nationwide) in most towns to keep even a 2,500 square foot book and music store in business. Horwedel is dead-on when he says, "[M]any of the customers who shopped in 'New Age' stores were, in truth, not 'New Age' at all, but represented this more upscale, sophisticated and time-pressured consumer."
Cultural Creatives are seriously concerned with self-actualization, spirituality, self-expression; they like the foreign and exotic, and enjoy new ideas. They're socially concerned, advocating ecological sustainability, women's issues, peace, social justice and planetary awareness. These aren't separate concerns; to reach them it's necessary to appeal to the whole package of principles. There are twice as many Cultural Creative women as men, with women's concerns and values finding a voice and going public. Cultural Creatives are strongly upper middle class (46% in the top income quarter) and they are everywhere--definitely in your town. Age, race and ethnicity are typical of the nation as a whole. Values, not demographics, are what identify this market.
How to Sell
to Cultural Creatives:
To beat the
chain stores, offer more than service. Develop a relationship with your
customer that doesn't treat them like walking wallets. See them as
friends and allies, people you share your excitement with. They are
heavy-duty volunteers; get them involved with your store, and back the
good cause they're interested in. Because of their community
orientation, you have an opportunity to make your store or business a
local institution by working with them.
---Buyers of art, music, books, videos, and magazines. They listen to more radio and watch less television than any other group. Cultural Creatives are literate and discriminating, but only a few will do "New Age" styles, so diversify. What do you have to offer with real social, cultural, spiritual and psychological depth?
---Big consumers and producers of arts and culture as artists and writers, and go to readings, showings and workshops. Offer such events at your store.
---Foodies--people who like to talk about food (before and after), eat out a lot, enjoy gourmet and ethnic cooking, try natural and health foods, etc.
---Experiential consumers. They invented the experience industry, which sells enlightening experiences rather than "things"--psychotherapy, weekend workshops, spiritual gatherings, personal growth experiences. They're going beyond "stuff."
---Into vacation travel. Cultural Creatives are on the leading edge: exotic, adventuresome, educational, authentic, altruistic and/or spiritual. Tours of temples in India, tours of the back country, eco-tourism, photo-safaris, save-the-baby-seals vacations, the Zen/Vipassana/Yoga/Sufi retreat instead of a vacation, etc. They don't want packaged tours, fancy resorts or cruises or Disneyland.
---Devoted to personalizing the home. Interior decoration is eclectic, with a lot of original art and crafts around the house. Their home shows who they are.
---Holistic. These are the innovators in and strongest consumers of personal growth books, alternative health care and natural foods. What ties these together is a belief in holistic health: body, mind and spirit need to be unified. They are forever sorting out the weird from the innovative. Use discrimination, or they won't trust your judgment.
information, or to contact the authors, please visit www.culturalcreatives.org.
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