A lot has been made of the rise of maker movement.
In a nutshell
- Millennials are at the helm of the marker movement, driven by a backlash to the digitalisation of society.
- Millennials take a holistic approach to life. Dabbling in creativity and entrepreneurship is not only an antidote to work stress and sitting in front of a computer all week, it’s also a source of meaningful accomplishment and social cachet.
- Sustainability, authenticity, value, heritage and experientialism movements all converge to make the maker culture highly relevant.
It's viewed as either a shift of ‘consumer to creator’ critical to a country’s economic future, or as a comedic fad.
In TRA's The Listening Project: Millennials, we saw lots of evidence of this movement - from making and selling preserves to developing specialist interest apps. By maker we mean those who engage in “tinkering and making things,” from traditional arts, crafts and hobbies like knitting, woodwork or bee-keeping to technologists using open source software and 3D printing.
The Internet has allowed makers to flourish around the world by democratising information and skills and lowering the barriers to knowledge and community. Free, open source and low-cost platforms, tools, software and communities exist to empower all facets of making, from designing and building to selling and sourcing. And the community of makers is world-wide, able to share, teach, learn, exchange, buy and sell on a global scale.
Among key drivers behind the growth of maker culture is a backlash against the same digitalisation of society that powers it. But just as important is a shift in cultural values and milestones.
Millennials have more time to make stuff
“In my spare time I enjoy photography and drawing. I try and set myself projects to complete, an example would be a lamp I carved from local stone and a bed made from NZ timbers.” – The Listening Project, Millennials.
Traditional milestones such as marriage, children and buying houses are happening later. Consider that in 1970, the median age for these events was under 25 and that today they are over 30. This opens up a whole decade for the typical millennial to spend time reflecting on themselves, their relationships and the world around them before familial responsibilities absorb their lives. The Listening Project highlighted the fact that millennials are relentless self-improvers and making is one means of deriving a sense of self-accomplishment.
So when we witness millennials, with their enthusiasm for making and their pivotal role in the elevation of maker culture, there are some important implications for buying behaviour that we should consider as well.
Creativity on a pedestal
“This little shop in Australia posted some photos of their unique freakshakes and is now slowly gonna become the next big thing. I mean, a huge chocolate shake, slathered in nutella and a donut on top…droolz.” – The Listening Project, Millennials.
Creativity is revered. We employ design-thinking, flock to TED talks, and make celebrities of inventors. There is that bunch in Silicon Valley, but there's also social entrepreneurs tinkering with our systems or bakers adapting recipes for adventurous and gluten-free taste buds. Being creative garners social cachet, often elicited through social media. And the notion of creativity has evolved with the times to engender social and economic advantages. Employers, for instance, are interested in well-rounded, creative employees – an Etsy store on your Linkedin page brings kudos. Maker culture has been both grounded in creativity and elevated by it.
Millennials seek fulfillment and purpose
“Seeing young people (around my age) succeed against all odds really inspires me as well. It just reminds me that if I work hard for something I really want, I can get it.” – The Listening Project, Millennials.
Contrary to the infamous label of millennials as entitled, The Listening Project found that millennials are actually a hard-working lot. But work is not everything. Millennials take a holistic approach to life, seeking balance and fulfillment. Dabbling in creativity and entrepreneurship is not only an antidote to work stress and sitting in front of a computer all week, it’s also a source of meaningful accomplishment and social cachet.
Media is full of stories of people turning their maker hobbies into successful businesses, escaping the rat race and being their own boss. With the amount of online tools and support available to us, there’s never been an easier and less risky time to start your own business.