Thursday, June 18, 2015

In defense of a stereotype...

Now, I know that we've all been taught stereotypes are BAD. They wrongfully place entire groups of people into one small description that is often used in a derogatory way. However, I feel like there can be good in stereotypes, because it's all about vocabulary.

A popular blogger buzzword is "niche" oh and also "brand". It's all about trying to define exactly who your buying audience is. This is nothing new to marketers and advertisers. But when you are trying to figure out who exactly is buying your stuff, how do you classify them? As much as you can say, "Women age 16-24 who shop at Lululemon, enjoy nightlife, and love personal beauty products," you could also say "Woo Girls," the female counterparts to "Bros". And isn't that nice?

I would argue that it is. I was recently talking to a friend about Bonnaroo. She went this year and was sort of a spy on the ground for me. Bonnaroo allows outside vendors and not all of them, according to her not even the majority of them, are big name brands. The big brands sponsor the shows, but smaller businesses have the tents and make up the footprint of the event. It's not just stages and sponsors, it's also campgrounds and vendor tents. So, I wanted to know, with an $800 price tag, could I vend there and do well? That remains to be seen, but an important part of our conversation was, "Who is shopping?"

You see, my mom and I know our niche...sometimes better than our fellow crafters and certainly better than organizers. We have been invited to shows we're never going to do because we know it's not our crowd. And what is our crowd? It's a variety, honestly, of people who value handmade items and fall in love with whimsical creations. But it's simplified by saying, "hipsters and hippies," because well, those words work.

Humans recognize patterns. You put together that which you see not by processing billions of details daily but because your mind recognizes common patterns over time and puts them together. This is why you sometimes think strangers in a big city are your close friends from your small hometown. Your brain first puts together a pattern and then recognizes what that is. It's why you meet people who remind you of someone else. It's also why stereotypes can be useful and helpful.

Of course, stereotypes are only useful and helpful if you're not a dick who then categorizes all those people into one really basic sentence and you know, excludes them from public policy or even the lunch table. I mean, as much as people can and do fit into categories, we are all still special snowflakes...just like everybody else.

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