From Shanghai to London, hackers, tinkerers, enthusiasts, self-learners and entrepreneurs of all ages and abilities are employing a ‘hands on’ approach to constructing the world around them.
Leveraging a confluence of digital and analogue toolsets, the protagonists of the maker culture or the maker movement as it is sometimes referred to, are deftly handling both smart styluses and soldering irons to take their concepts from idea to prototype to market reality.
So what is the Maker Movement? I found AdWeek’s definition to be right on the money:
The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make. Makers tap into cultural admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise.
What defines the influence, scope and power behind this movement is its optimism in action – the belief in individuals’ ability to enact change, wedded to cultural drivers rooted in the economy, society and technology:
Individuals are increasingly empowered by a growing array of alternative ways to engage in the economy — taking advantage of new services and marketplaces to share, shop, sell and scale.
Curiosity, ideology, necessity: whatever the reason, people are relying more heavily on their own hands and brains to meet daily needs. By experimenting with self-sufficiency, individuals are recognizing their own power through everyday action.
The barriers of access to making have come crashing down, as simplified design tools and cost-effective DIY kits provide individuals with cheap means to make extraordinary projects.
Here at Simpson Carpenter, our Cultural Insight team have spotted more and more brands starting to tap into Maker Culture too, with it being used as a differentiating tool in nearly every industry:
- From customized medicines which aim to determine patients’ biology, enabling the right / best / most effective treatments to be used at the outset of diseases, so that precious time isn’t wasted on less potent medications and therapies.
- And automotive advertising … Audi invited viewers choose one of 3 different endings for their Super Bowl ad and vote for which would be aired. A YouTube tool enabled viewers to pick different endings for viral videos, resulting in more brand engagement and sharing.
- To Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Vending Machines, allowing consumers to “Create Your Mix” by combining Coke’s different soda brands in whatever proportion they choose.
The more we look into it, the more we believe that Maker Culture is very important to the future of branding. It might result in more loyal customers whose needs are better met by delivering precise products without the need for compromise. It could increase satisfaction by offering a surprisingly wide or unexpected range of options, and through enhanced customer feelings of creativity and individual expression.
It is turning more and more people into makers instead of just consumers as we swap the role of brands from a lead role to a walk-on part in our world.
John Murphy, Head of Cultural Insights.