Filling the Hedonistic gap with bite-size, guiltless pleasure.
The title of this article was initially going to be ‘The Future of Luxury is Bite Sized’. That title is a true phenomenon. The desire for luxury is expanding but the size of the ‘splurge’ is often smaller. It is no longer the size of a $12K Birkin and is now the size of a $28 bag of chips. $28 dollar chips. A whoa-that’s-pricey bag of chips but a luxury we can all manage—and increasingly, seem to justify. You only have to take a walk through the aisles of Erewhon, Foxtrot or Big Night to see it happening. $55 ceramic mugs bought in an elite-athlete-level competitive buying experience—yet another example. But while this phenomenon is fascinating, the more interesting question is: WHY is this happening? Hedonism 3.0. (Or 15.0 as Hedonism has been around since the dawn of woman). In our post-Me Too, post-alcohol, post-sex-scenes world, we are having to fill our Hedonistic cups elsewhere.
With cultural shifts, those latent desires still exist under the surface, and as a result, we’re seeking that pleasure…in the safe loving arms of expensive chips and fancy supplements.
Don’t get this wrong, we’re pro Me-too. Can understand the ‘alcohol is poison’ rationale. Agree with the concerns of consumerism and the planet. That’s not the point. The reality is there are fewer places where ‘pleasure’ feels safe. Hedonism at a VERY basic level, it is defined as:
But one VERY important and distinctive aspect of Hedonism not mentioned in the definition above, that is key:
HEDONISM IS PLEASURE WITHOUT SHAME OR GUILT.
And this is where bite-sized luxury comes in. We want pleasure and we want to not feel guilty about it! Exactly what small but extravagant pleasures offer. Yes, it’s indulgent but it’s an indulgence you don’t have to feel bad about. This guilt-free view of expensive snacks is such a phenomenon it has spurred a treasure trove of hysterical content. One prime example, the realization that the minibar is in fact not the devil or that tiny little hotel-fridge was filled with Cokes and chocolate bars are not so unimaginably expensive they were going to bankrupt your family and ensure you could never go on vacation again.
@the.mcfarlands Dad used to tell us we would get charged if we even *touched* the snacks 💀 #dan #dad ♬ The Treason of Isengard - Howard Shore
As a collective generation we have not managed to mend the many realms of mental health issues we face but we have as a collective managed to get past the fear of the minibar.
So what can brands do with this?
TURN UP THE SPLURGE.
Turn up shame-free pleasure. Splurgy options that lean heavily on indulgent and divine pleasure—within reach.
GIFT THE GUILTY
Gift with purchase that people actually love spending money on but are frequently shamed for doing so—like Tarot Readings (and end the choke-hold bag totes have on GWP—pls lord). If not Tarot, tattoos. If not tattoos, you get the point.
LEAN INTO SPLURGY SYNERGY.
Embrace a coming together that creates a Hedonistic level of splurgy nirvana. The key to this is understanding what pleasure/pinnacle means to both audiences in the collab or you can really miss the mark. You also have to go big or go home. Nike x Tiffany collab for example that really missed all the marks because it didn’t go far enough. You have to maximize the pleasure or don’t bother.
Have fun! Get wild!