About once a year for the past several years I have had projects come across my desk that involve taking a closer look at the American Male consumer to help with one marketing, product development or otherwise strategic initiative or another. In most cases of work designed to unearth consumer insights, the focus is typically pretty narrow: help us sell more of these pants, or as Startifacts quotes “develop a more appealing package”, etc. However, when doing Consumer Anthropology research, which is the more deep contextual kind of work I do, you can’t avoid gaining a very broad and deep understanding of the tides that sway the consumer groups you are studying.
To that end, I have been rather deeply moved and simultaneously perplexed by what seems to be the conundrum of the American male. On the one hand, American consumer history and marketing both have traditionally told them that they are to be the literal embodiment of strength, ruggedness and aggression, while the evolving mating choice-model of the American female has told them they also need to be polished and sensitive and emotionally available. Then throw in the fact that the evolution of our economy has elevated the appeal of the once-needing-to-seek-revenge nerdy guys.
But if you take a close look at the products that are marketed to males, you still see the majority of them, especially in the consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, alcohol and automotive space, vomiting out hyper-masculinity messages. In theory, these are messages that are waning in relevance – but the sh%t still sells. And the kicker is, there is still a ton of what we brand strategy types call “white space” out there – niches and categories where there is a distinct need not being met because nobody understands how to effectively meet them. Why? Because as the dialogue has been getting so muddied by mixed messages that nobody can filter through the noise and get deep enough into the dialogue to understand which way the tide is turning. But that’s why they hire folks like me. 😉 Right now I am beginning a project around men and healthy food.
And that’s why I try to digest a good amount of content like this blog right here: American Males. I came across this experiment in sparking an introspective / reflective dialogue about masculinity because the author “liked” one of my recent blogs. See – Narcissism can actually lead to broadened horizons. 😉 In it, he seeks to:
“redefine the trends, challenge the naysayer, and up root generational ideologies to cultivate a new concept of the American Male. With relevant, thought-provoking, documentary, editorial content, American Male hopes to stand at the forefront and reflect the cultural diversity of the American Male.”
I am deeply interested in what seems to be a Creative Class-driven conversation about the experience of masculinity in America, attempting to re-frame our conceptions of the masculine aesthetic. I am interested to hear / see other content like this and understand exactly what kind of momentum is happening around this perspective.
So I ask for some direction from my readers and to hear your perspective. Do you know of a great blog / website / brand that is trying to get people talking / changing the conversation? Are you an American male? Do you happen to know a few? What is your point of view on trends in the culture and sociology of “maleness” in America – where it’s been, where it’s heading, etc.
Don’t hold back. Real men aren’t afraid to share their opinions.