We long for authenticity: something that feels real, consistent ,honest, transparent, trustworthy, original, genuine, sincere and true. This applies to both the people we engage with, the experiences we have and the stuff we buy.
For thousands of years people were agrarian- living off the land, farming and living with relatively few possessions. Then the industrial revolution hit and maximized the production of stuff. After that we moved into a service based economy: plumbers to fix the faucet, McDonalds to serve hamburgers, landscapers to rake the leaves and trim the hedges. Then we moved into an experience economy. This reality is marked by a desire to consume products and services that are experientially driven. Think about how your favorite coffee shop engages the whole person and creates an experience. They aren’t just selling coffee- they are selling, as Starbucks has said, “a third place” (not home, not the office). They offer products and services but with an additional component that feels like it engages us more deeply.
In a post-industrial world we have enough stuff. We’ve moved from scarcity to abundance. Now we search for meaning in all of that. Its sort of like, “now what?”
But products, services, and the experiences around them are not enough these days. We want to feel more integrated, more connected. We have enough stuff, now we want the stuff to mean something. But stuff can’t mean something unless it is true and authentic. We need it to mean more. So thats why we see the swing back to local, handmade, heritage, etc.. We want to feel connected to the local butcher or or baker–to the community and to ourselves. Consuming is not enough. Filling our lives with stuff is not enough. We want more, but not more stuff. More meaning, more truth.