I think we can all agree that these are challenging times for storytellers. Times brimming with opportunity for sure, but also pretty challenging. As we’ve discussed in previous posts over the past years, there are a lot of things to take into consideration and a lot of crossroads where choosing the right path – or paths, even – is crucial.
It could be worse though. I read an article the other day where insurance companies lamented their lack of success when is comes to getting the 18-35y old interested in life insurance, home insurance, car insurance… there’s a noticeable and undeniable change in all sorts of patterns of behavior.
In the article, the shift is indentified as being the effect of a number of causes:
” Young people simply don’t have the disposable income that they had in the past, thanks to a wicked combination of debt, poor job opportunities and expensive housing. Moreover, the sharing economy has taught many that just as you don’t need to own the DVD of the film you want to watch, you don’t need your own car to get around.”
Access is definitely becoming the new ownership, as Brian Chesky of Airbnb put it back in 2011 already. It’s no longer only about owning things, about showing off your new whatever-it-is-that-you-would-want-to-show-off… it’s about experiences, about things that you carry with you, in your memories, and not keep around and worry about.
There’s also the question of the financial situation of today’s younger generations, where study after study shows that young people will be poorer than their parents at every stage of their lives. Today’s young people have lived through the bust of 2008, more noticeable in some places than others for sure, but they’ve also struggled on the job market, on the housing market, just about everywhere.
Why do I talk about these issues? Well, simply because of what was stated a couple of paragraphs up. We’re looking at generations of people NOT looking to own a new car or a fancy apartment – if from convenience or financial possibilities or something else – but instead looking to have experiences to enrich their lives. As storytellers, that’s exactly what we should be providing them with – access to experiences on different scales, with different demands, different possibilities to dive in and engage, different communities, different niches…. And not tied down to material things.
I feel there is a slight shift needed in mentality on our – or at least my – part, where I can think of the content and the stories I create as being the equivalent, experience-wise, of buying a new car or something else. An experience can be as profound and as rewarding… and in fact, even more rewarding, as it can – and should – be expanded, built upon and engaging in the long term in a way few physical, static objects can.
Is the age of the storyteller here? It very well might be.