We are friends on Facebook, followed on Instagram and connected on LinkedIn – the digital age has allowed more people to be connected than ever. Information from around the world is at our fingertips, allowing us to work from anywhere, travel with vigour and find allies across the globe.
Younger generations are digitally native – honing a newfound empathy and understanding for not just technology but also the connection with people who do not share geographical similarities. Exposed to the imperfections of the world, views are shifting from purely localised thinking to a more global perspective.
Spotify recently released an annual consumer report, focused on this new tribe of global consumers who are more in touch with their emotions and use sound to escape from screens and find communities that are not defined by nationality or borders but united in shared understanding and interest.
This understanding of the world as more than just the country they live in has left 40% of 18-24-year-olds identifying as more of a global citizen than a citizen of their country. Reflected in their attitudes towards brands and culture, people are now following trends on a worldwide scale. The rise in popularity of foods from different cultures, international music and beauty routines signifies this shift in focus.
Travel has influenced how we view culture and, with international travel expected to rise to 1.8 billion passengers by 2030, this shift in perspective will continue to diversify. Considering how this impacts brands on a global scale, we shall see more international brands around the world. Airports are now becoming shopping hubs tailored to the needs of the globalised consumer, with many more brands gaining influence beyond their country of origin.
Spaces like SOHO house allow members to feel at home wherever they are and while we respect this sense of security while travelling, we wonder if this it lacks a sense of cultural nuance which can only be found by truly experiencing a place. Online platforms such as Trippin, actively resist this, hoping to guide Gen Z consumers away from the mainstream and be inspired by the local heritage and community of a place.
In the not-so-far-future, globalised brands will have to determine the fine line between recognition and localised perspectives.
Bridging the gap between cultures is important, but it begs the question of where the line is between appreciation and appropriating local culture.
This can be explored in the fashion industry where a recent Gucci show featuring turbans was rebuked, while Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella performance was heralded for bringing tribute to the culture of historically black colleges and universities. It goes without saying: context is everything.
Appropriation is not a new concept but, as communities diversify, we have to query where the boundaries of a brand are drawn in globalised communities. In an ideal world, we would encourage the exploration of culture without distorting the heritage of a place. Allowing consumers to fuel their curiosity and explore the wonder of travel with ease and confidence, while sustaining the traditions of a place.
When looking at brands expanding retail spaces to suit a globalised consumer, here at Sheridan&Co, we understand how to translate a brand into different international markets, retaining its brand identity whilst still expressing cultural nuances in these markets. A brand needs to be wary of these subtleties; from the tech-obsessed consumers in China to the experience absorbed West, honing each store to fit its culture and brand is the key to sustainable expansions across the world.