Why Ugly Is The Trend That Won’t Die

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

An intentionally ugly aesthetic is earning likes on social media and proving a bankable trend for brands…

Ugly is so in right now. You might have noticed it: the seemingly unlikely popularity of clunky, perplexing footwear, the intentionally ugly selfies that have gone viral. As the staged perfection of social media has become a norm, backlash has been building against carefully curated feeds, full of envy-inducing photos that are anything but an accurate depiction of the life behind the lens. An ugly aesthetic challenges the un-reality of our digital reflections, and is anything but mainstream. Nothing sticks out on a page quite like a brown gravy-laden dish in a feed full of avocado toast or an un-flattering selfie in the (popular photo-editing app) Facetune era. Being “aggressively unglamorous,” as Quartz calls it, works on the ‘gram because Unique is the New Cool among young consumers, and ugly is anything but basic.

For some, ugly isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle. Eyebrow-raising aesthetic choices could be considered acts of transgression in a turbulent time, when young consumers are feeling record levels of anxiety and pressure to appear perfect. The Paris Review explains that ugly fashion comes from a long tradition of sticking it to the status quo. The ‘80s had punk, 2018 has clogs. The founder of the @cloglife Instagram account explains that ugly looks go far beyond an affinity for clunky footwear; it’s an escape from sometimes hard-to-handle world: “When I think about ultimate planet clog, there is no news. There are no politics, no bad doctor’s appointments. It is a stupidly comfortable place of bad good taste,” and clogs are just “a ‘tiny part’ of this vision.”

So, from doodle-grade tattoos and bruised bananas, we took a look at 5 things getting an ugly makeunder:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing


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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “I think we’re already seeing alcohol lose its health halo. Next, the assumption that alcohol is essential to a good, sophisticated life will fade.”—Joy Manning, Deputy Editor, Edible Communities (Medium)

“The doofus dad” TV stereotype is being remade for role-resisting Millennial parents. Inept at care-taking and almost everything else, the tired stereotype is saying its last “D’Oh!” as The Simpson’s Homer Simpson and Peppa Pig’s Daddy Pig get replaced with a new wave of capable fathers like Bluey’s Bandit. The switch could have a real impact on the way kids understand family life, with one research fellow explaining, “The media reflects reality and also constructs reality.” (SMH)

Apple's new subscription gaming service Arcade will cannibalize its own App Store downloads—and that’s a good thing. Downloads in the App Store are on the decline, despite mobile gaming maintaining popularity and raking in revenue. If Apple can turn Arcade into young gamers’ go-to for mobile play, they’ll be poised for success that could outstrip even Apple TV and Apple Music. (The Motley Fool)

Gen Z music artists are “post-genre.” Mixing several influences into one song has become a way for rising artists to set themselves apart, and thanks to self-upload services like SoundCloud, they don’t need music industry exec’s approval. Meanwhile, the Genreless Generation can curate blended playlists via Spotify to fit moods and occasions rather than “rock” or “pop” and are streaming has also globalized their content consumption, so U.S. genres are no longer a limit. (Vice)

Carl’s Jr. has a CBD-infused burger that costs exactly $4.20. The chain restaurant is giving fast food a Cannabis Infusion, but only at one Denver, Colorado location, and only for one day. The Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight packs 5 mg of the chemical that won’t get you high. CBD is the trendy ingredient du jour, with 57% of 18-36-year-olds telling us they’re interested in trying it, and the chemical has made its way into everything from lotion to La Croix-like beverages. (LAT)

Axe is challenging masculinity with “bathsculinity.” The brand has been blurring gender lines for the Genreless Generation for years now, and their latest series of YouTube spots is showing that men can take baths, too. They’ve enlisted comedian Lil Rel Howery, who takes bubble baths surrounded by candles in the humorous videos. And they couldn’t be more on-trend: bath time is seeing a surge as a salve for Millennial anxiety. (Marketing Dive)

Quote of the Day: “I think for a cohesive strategy and for really helping to build awareness as well as grow the market size for new things, there's definitely digital and social media. But also, there has to be this in-real-life element.”—Alicia Yoon, Founder, Peach & Lily (YPulse)

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