Return of the Renaissance Wo/Man
Perspectives > Blog Post

Return of the Renaissance Wo/Man

October 6, 2015

Gareth Schweitzer

For those of you out there who still enjoy Miller High Life, like exercise but don’t find it compelling dinner conversation, and still don’t quite understand what a macrobiotic diet is (and more to the point, don’t care)– this post is for you.

For those of you out there who still enjoy Miller High Life, like exercise but don’t find it compelling dinner conversation, and still don’t quite understand what a macrobiotic diet is (and more to the point, don’t care)– this post is for you.

We are living in a highly obsessive era. If you aren’t a specialist yourself, you probably have a friend or loved one who obsesses over a narrow set of interests. People are way into the things they like, to the point of total preoccupation, and at the expense of the casual enthusiast. My requests for “your lightest, coldest beer” at local watering holes are received with looks of shock and horror; the fact that I see coffee as a functional beverage, not an art form, elicits the same reaction.

This “obsessive immersion” in one’s cultural area of interest is may be stronger in Venice Beach (where I live) or in Brooklyn than other parts of the country. But we see evidence across our research of individuals going for incredible depth in one subject (I’m a foodie!  Let me tell you about it!) at the expense of pursuing a broader spectrum of knowledge, skills, and experiences. The joy of being a Renaissance Man, or Woman, is more likely than not to fall victim to insults like “jack of all trades, master of none.” Our culture rewards specialization and expertise, and the job market pays for it. This cultural shift trickles over into how we use our personal, non-work time as well.

But don’t despair, those of you who know just six chords on a guitar, but strum them well. There’s some evidence that brands are recognizing that catering only to the hardcore connoisseur is a zero sum game; that even the most obsessed can only spend so much in any one category. What’s more, catering to those fanatics might just be alienating those who would enjoy dipping their toes in the proverbial water.

The world of food is one example. While on one end of the spectrum gastronomy is reaching new heights of insanity, there’s also a powerful movement to take the pretense out of food, and to embrace street flavors and casual settings. Higher end brands like San Pellegrino are getting into the act by running ads featuring their products lined up next to pizzas (albeit fancy looking ones), not just perched on the side of a white tablecloth. Restaurants are instructing waiters to drop the pretension, and kindly explain unknown items on the menu.

Outside the world of food, exercise studios are consciously creating classes for the uninitiated, and the overweight (gasp!). Some gym chains have even positioned their messaging to target the casual exerciser, rather than fitness fanatics. Symphonies are creating mobile music labs to bring classical music to the street, all with the intention of warming up the casually interested.

It’s possible that we’re reaching the tipping point of obsessive specialization, and moving back towards a middle ground in which brands cater to casual, but genuine, interest. So never fear, $10 dollar wine drinkers. The world’s about to move in your direction again.

Gareth Schweitzer

Founder and President

As Co-Founder and President of Kelton, Gareth is a driving force behind the company’s strategy, culture, and success. With...

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