Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

Today's post comes from Ypulse General Manager Jake Katz.

Lena Dunham Re-shapes the Meaning of Mainstream

GirlsIn 2010, The New York Times published an article called “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” This identification of the “emerging adulthood” Millennial phenomenon serves as the creative seed from which HBO’s “Girls” has grown.

“Girls” has sparked as much discussion in the marketing/media community as it has among its viewers. Thematically, the show brings to life many Millennial concepts. In particular, the growing complexities of dating (it’s no coincidence an article titled "The End of Courtship?" ran the same week as “Girls’” premiere). Additionally, the show’s exploration of navigating one’s post-college path to success mirrors much of what our research here at Ypulse shows about how Millennials are realizing their dreams in a post-recession economy.

While much of the discussion around the show has been quick to point out its misses (a lack of diversity in the cast, arguably skin deep analyses of life from Dunham), stepping back and examining it from a few levels higher brings up a more important discussion. The media industry should quickly be decoding what it means for our perceptions, visions, and assumptions of “mainstream America”, that a show set in the most notoriously niche and infamously marketing trapdoor of Williamsburg is as relatable to 20-somethings as the more obvious “The Carrie Diaries.”

The elephant in the room has now been recognized. For every big brand that has learned to assess new ideas, talent, trends, and marketing through a lens of mainstream versus leading edge, could this be the moment we realize the gap between leading edge and mainstream has nearly dissolved? Maybe.

Let’s think about this for a moment. We know this generation of youth…

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: "My favorite place to shop online is Sephora, because I love high end makeup and I love reading about what's new and watching tutorials on how it works.” –Female, 26, MA

We’ve seen everyone from food startups to fast-food chains label their food “artisanal” to appeal to Millennials—and there is good reason. It turns out there is generation gap when it comes to consumers’ reaction to “artisanal” and “craft.”  Millennials are more likely than older consumers to say that the labels “handmade/handcrafted, “craft,” and “small batch” tell them a product is high quality, and also more likely to say that descriptors like “artisan/artisanal” have some influence on their purchases. (MediaPost)

To sell wine to Millennials, brands have had to drop the exclusivity and embrace a more unpretentious attitude. Sparkling wine brand Chandon is relying on Instagram to get their bubbly message across to young females, making it their top social platform, over Pinterest. Their colorful, summertime images, featuring captions like “Today calls for Rosé,” are a part of their effort to get sparkling wine “out of the holiday rut.” (Digiday)

Older generations who hear about anonymous apps like Whisper and YikYak have one main question: why? Question and answer site Ask.fm’s recent study asked them, and found that 40% of 13-18-year-olds said anonymity online allows them to talk about difficult topics—only 4% said they would talk about the same things if their name was being used. (IBT)

New parents will do just about anything to get their kid(s) to go to sleep, as one self-published book is proving. The picture book The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep made the Amazon bestseller list by claiming to put children straight to sleep. Sales skyrocketed quickly, going from selling just 324 copies on August 16th, to 29,000 at the end of last week. It’s rumored that Random House has bought the rights to the miracle book. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Restoration Hardware is going after the teens “who ha[ve] everything.” Their new high-end post-childhood line RH Teen includes chandeliers, and fine art photography, and the brand hopes to capture young consumers as they are finding their own identity and becoming independent as decorators of their space. Unlike some brands, who are co-creating their products and marketing with young consumers, Restoration chose to launch RH Teen without focus groups or studies. (WSJ)

According to Pew, a third of Millennials frequently use their phones in public for “no particular reason,” and 13% say they frequently use their mobile devices to avoid interacting with other people. (Queue the “anti-social Millennial” pieces.) But another study might shed some more light on their “for no reason” phone use: 60% believe their smartphones enhances their leisure time. The research hypothesizes that young consumers are using phones for moments of “micro-leisure” throughout the day. (Washington PostSocialTimes)

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