Alvin Toffler in ‘Future Shock’ (1980) wrote about the rise of what he called the prosumer, as in producer/consumer. He identified the double standard inherit in our society whereby, on the one hand as a producer you have to expect competition and little mercy, on the other hand, as a consumer, you show little of both.
Business was ever thus and we happily live either as a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small one, depending on which foot the shoe is on at the time.
With the rise of the internet, the marketplace has increased enormously and anyone can have their own website, as many people have done.
There is no monopoly on personal creativity or product differentiation, however there is no substitute for craftsmanship in presenting the finished product or service.
The rise of the Industrial Revolution through the Victorian era was a testimony to the forging of art combined with technology. Even today the nostalgia of that era lives on through social media communities such as Steampunk Tendencies which capture this fusion.
Perhaps the graciousness of wrought iron, bull nosing and the age of Steam had transformed the hammer and anvil from a tradesman’s tool into an artist’s palette.
The passion that lives through what was a new form of expression for a new era is the essential ingredient that determines the influence of a market based offering.
If that passion can combine the past and the future, the consumer can feel a congruence which is reassuring and an inherent trust-based relationship is established whereby they will feel comfortable in trying out something new.
How many cars were named after birds and planes after animals? We tend to see our future hopes in terms of our past aspirations and the merging of those two tenses creates a powerful presence in the now.
Focusing on this combination meshes the ‘make’ with the ‘take’ like two gears engaging rather than clashing. Commerce in this way uses a lubricant rather than a glue and is far more likely to retain repeat customers.
Hybrid technologies are a precursor to a quantum shift in our ways of doing things, ‘classic’ and ‘plastic’ need not be enemies but can be combined in new ways that address new needs. The Iron Age became the Bronze Age only after alloys were found to be stronger by fusing two base metals.
Innovation and craftsmanship make good bedfellows, especially on a bedrock of online platforms where marketing has become a level playing field.