Designing Your Life – Part 3 of 3

In the last post, we talked about the “Nest Builders” and “Compulsive Renovators”, two very different types when it comes to laypeople designing their environments in ways that used to be the domain of trained designers and decorators.

Here are two more types, who are not only prominent in this category, but who also use digital tools extensively, but for very different purposes.

Status-mongers – While this group can be mistaken for Compulsive Renovators, or vice versa, there are some key distinctions. Namely, their primary motivation is to be the envy of the Joneses. They’re highly competitive and social. You can see them post and crow about their every accomplishment during a reno or redecorating project. Their choices of appliances, fixtures, paints – are very driven by the brand and the prestige it represents. When they show you their new kitchen – and you can be sure they’ll show you, with a grand tour – they’ll name the brands, most likely. “Don’t you just love my Moen faucets? And our Toto washlet has this fabulous bidet function! Just try it, you’ll love it.” Naturally, you’ll see them and their “objects d’art” on Instagram and Facebook. And very frequently at that.

It doesn’t take Abraham Maslow to tell you, this mindset is all about “esteem”.

Self-expressers – For this type, their home is an artistic canvas, a way to express their unique, and evolving, identity. It’s not about what others think or they’re seeking praise so much, so much as it’s about artistic expression. In many ways my friend Mary is this type. She’s a talented amateur painter, and her “canvas” extends beyond, into every surface of the house. This type can be quite ingenious and original in their choices. Note how unfazed she was to say that her kitchen was from Ikea. Where the stuff comes from doesn’t matter – unless there’s a story there that corresponds to their artistic vision. Social media platforms like Pinterest are particularly attractive to this type. They will research extensively online for inspiration, and lean at times toward brands (retail, paint, hardware) that professionals use.

And yes, this is the mindset that most powerfully correlates to “self-actualization” in the hierarchy of needs.

Retail and product brands in the home reno and design space, would benefit from understanding what proportion of their customers – today and tomorrow – correspond to the above four segments (the two in this post, and the two described in the previous post) and others I haven’t identified. And then it would behoove them to gear their in-store and digital experiences specifically to these types, along with, of course, their advertising. This trend isn’t really a trend, therefore. It’s a fact of 21st century North American life.

– W.