Flourishing Curiosity

17 Apr 2015|Cultural Insight Team

The healthy and thriving life of the mind is treasured more than ever. People are pursuing knowledge for pleasure. They want mental clarity and true enlightenment. Learning is seen as enhancement – a way to add richness of character and depth of experience. Discovery and knowledge are becoming a bigger part of leisure. Curiosity of the mind is flourishing.

Most strongly felt in social lives, people are seeing learning as a pleasurable and fun activity. The face of festivals has changed dramatically – becoming places for development, not simply pure release. ‘The Forum at The Wilderness Festival’ creates space for debate, discussion, theatre, poetry and film. Featuring talks from distinguished speakers, thinkers, writers and artists, it explores topics from across the spectrum of human endeavour.

But learning isn’t reserved purely for special occasions – people are integrating it into their weekly schedule. ‘Sunday Papers Live’ is an experiment in creating the perfect shared Sunday. It is a day of talks, walks, performances and food that bring the broadsheets to life – with commentators, writers, musicians, poets and comedians. And ‘The Lost Lectures’ is a Europe-wide series of underground lectures that pushes the boundaries of knowledge by creating unforgettable experiences with worldclass speakers across an eclectic host of fields.

Learning is the new black.
Knowledge has become a bigger part of the social capital. It’s now cool to learn, to know, and to be excited and eager to acquire more knowledge. People will continue to use information as material for bragging and showing off on social media, but with information so abundant and freely available, people are becoming more astute and efficient in the way they filter and absorb it. They are demanding quicker and slicker ways to navigate information in an overloaded, fast and frenetic world. Beautiful, intuitive and crystal clear ways of imparting knowledge help people become experts in mere minutes.

There is an increasing desire to want to learn on the go. ‘Serial’ was the NPR sponsored podcast that relayed a complex and intellectually stimulating story describing the intricacies of a legal case in 10 instalments. It became the most popular podcast ever, and sparked ongoing debate. Meanwhile ‘Yahoo News Digest’ a news summary app, uses algorithms to provide two daily news briefings of stories aggregated from across publishers, illustrated by expandable ‘atoms’. Its vision is to simplify how people get information.

Digging deeper.
It’s not just quick spates of info that people are interested in, people are hungry for the niche and specialist. With more breadth and depth of information on offer than before, people are keen to be experts in almost everything. Learning is entertainment, it’s self-expression and it’s cool. Certain products and categories are becoming the focus for this connoisseurship. Artisanal coffee and craft beer are the latest of these movements, and small organisations are leading the way in helping people educate themselves. ‘Ozone Coffee Roasters’ hold monthly ‘cupping’ sessions – 90 minute masterclasses that introduce you to subtle nuances and flavours in a coffee tasting session followed by an explanation of the blending process and a tour of their coffee roastery.

And whilst mass market products and cultural activities are being subject to intense interest and learning, it’s also the very niche that is being brought to the masses. The odd and ancient art of taxidermy has risen in popularity. Places such as ‘Amanda’s Autopsies’ and ‘DIY Taxidermy’ offer private classes, letting people delve into the art and learn the technical details at play.

Brands harness curiosity.
Some brands are already beginning to see the benefit of building on this trend. Last year ‘Selfridges’ put on a Festival of Imagination – a month-and-a-half of talks, installations, art events and creative happenings. It celebrated the most impressive intellectual flights of fancy and looked forward to the ingenious inventions that will change the future. And this month they launch Agender – an exploration of societal binary gender definition, where customers will be taken on a journey where they can choose to shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes. Meanwhile Hendricks Gin hosted the ‘Carnival of Knowledge’ that featured experts sharing their knowledge, insights and ideas.

What can other brands do to capitalise on this growing curiosity?
Don’t dumb down connoisseurship – people want thorough knowledge and aren’t afraid to seek it out. Think about the kinds of knowledge your audience might be excited about, and that your brand can provide. For an organic food brand it might be learning about responsible farming methods, for example.

Consider how to package this up and really celebrate it. A page on the website isn’t enough. Expect your consumers to be hungry and capable, and play the role of the enlightener without being patronising. Think about where to keep your interesting content so it can be discovered. You probably won’t email people about it, but maybe you have your own YouTube channel for people to explore.

Whilst not everyone will want to know the full picture, don’t be afraid of detail – create ‘underground’ ways for this learning to occur, so the most curious can dig deeper into their chosen subject. There may be an exciting event you could set up or join, or a partnership you could forge with a key opinion leader, and let that be the vehicle for people’s curiosity.

The trend for flourishing curiosity is set to grow in 2015. The boundaries between learning and fun will continue to blur. In increasingly hectic lives, focussing on just one thing will feel like a treat. Learning is increasingly becoming about selfimprovement rather than specific purposes. Connoisseurship is infiltrating all fields and extreme knowledge of almost everything is desirable. In the pursuit of knowledge no stone is left unturned – people are hungry to discover every detail of their spaces, experiences and interests.

2015 is the year of enrichment. Find out more: www.culturalthemes.com


Image credit: The Forum at The Wilderness Festival

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