Yes, we all have heard the term ‘bespoke’ every once in a while. But does anybody actually know the true meaning of the word, where it came from and how it’s affecting our businesses? Not to worry, we’ve got the answers and more follow up questions. Let’s start with the basics. What does the term actually mean? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary it’s an adjective to define something that is ‘made for a particular customer or user’. When we look at the other side of the dictionary spectrum, the Urban Dictionary, bespoke means ‘custom made, looking like it costs a million bucks, #expensive.’ Sorted.
The last few years, London based companies like to boast the term bespoke in every other publication. Although most dictionaries tend to compare bespoke with made to measure, any Briton will tell you it’s more than that, there seems to be more craft in bespoke than in tailor made.
The word bespoke was extremely popular before the Industrial Revolution and started declining ever since. When John Ford introduced us to the legendary “any color as long as it’s black” Ford Model T, the term bespoke was already less popular than it is today.
A few years ago, Google noticed a rise in the use of the word. This vintage term is of course a reflection of the society we live in today: a society of individuals who like to flaunt their individual choices both live and on their social networks.
So how did time influence the meaning of the word? In 1800 the world’s population was just under 1 billion people. With a current population of 7.6 billion people, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that today’s idea of bespoke is not the individuality of a tailor made suit but of individual offers for smaller groups of consumers. Today the bespoke approach results in larger offerings with more options than ever before.
Obviously these bespoke products and services are already part of our everyday lives:
Music? Today, there are more festivals than ever with more stages than one can watch at every festival. Spotify offers millions of songs from the most obscure genres to the most popular bands dead or alive.
Video’s & Movies? Netflix offers more movies than somebody can bingewatch in a lifetime, Youtube has more video categories than you can comprehend and every moron out there can stream his toddler’s first steps on the lawn. Bespoke content for the family is a fact.
Sneakers? Mention a color or fabric that hasn’t been used to make bespoke Stan Smiths… Right? So we can say, with confidence, bespoke is here to stay.
The introduction of bespoke products and services is also synonymous for an explosion of choice, and in a world where FOMO may not be hot anymore but at least lukewarm, this works quite well. The same goes, of course, for our business of activations and events. Appealing to an individual need with a bespoke proposal is key if we want to attract consumers that are genuinely interested in the product or service we’re trying to promote.
Developing the right activation for the right target group is the basic start. The exponential growth in events and activations is starting to result in consumer fatigue. Today you need to offer something out of this world to get consumers out of their comfy chairs. Consumers are spoilt and have seen it all, or not? Understanding this consumer fatigue and where it comes from is the key to pulling them in again. At our own WonderWeekend festival, the most popular activities for families last year were a torchlight procession through the woods and roasting marshmallows. It’s back to bespoke basics.
Recently we saw quite a lot of interesting activation and event concepts that concentrate on slowing down, and offering “less is more” experiences. We’d be glad to share them with you.
Indiandribble has never been much into mass activation, and it seems tomorrow’s activations and events may well be small and nimble (and bespoke of course 🙂 ). Fact is that for now, big or small they all need to be “instagrammable”.