Toronto10 by keepon on Flickr Along that same line as Small Is the New Big and the The Long Tail, etc. etc. (drink, drink), and combined a bit with the Trading Up idea, there is a growing phenomenon that is pushing the nichification of markets even further to the edges.

I refer to myself and the people around me who are exhibiting the same behaviours as the Boutique Generation Era (thanks for the suggestion).

You may be a member of the Boutique Era if you:

  1. Enjoy shopping at your local pharmacy, grocer, clothing store where you know the owners and feel yourself going out of your way to give them business even if their prices are higher because you prefer to have the personalized service over cost reduction
  2. Enjoy shopping at specialty stores, like Cheese Emporiums, Perfumeries, Tea Shops, Sephora (drooool), etc. that carry a single, narrow type of product
  3. Will not pay much attention to the prices at these stores because the experience is worth it
  4. You were influenced to shop at the specialty stores as well as the local boutiques and shops mostly because a friend told you his/her experience with them
  5. You are starting to demand the same great experience from your online browsing. You prefer better designs, smoother UI, simple, streamlined checkout, some level of personalized service (ie. Oddica does a great job of this with their amazing packaging and 'extras'), or at least a community where you feel you 'belong' (ie. Threadless) and you don't mind paying for it as well.
  6. Prefer smaller restaurants that have a beautifully detailed menu who serve interesting wine pairings, have 'stories' for each dish and are a locals best kept secret (said restaurants don't have to be pricey, but aren't really a bargain). The service is personal and you can't have dinner there in under 2 hours
  7. Like to wear fashions by local designers, buy vintage pieces and buy clothing and jewelry when you travel that nobody else will have, but you always have a story for
  8. Will travel way far out of your way for a special cup of coffee, tea or mixed drink and make certain you introduce good friends to the treat of the experience
  9. Love farmers markets and prefer organic markets when the choice is presented
  10. Pride yourself in being able to give these 'insider tidbits' to others and connect to fellow customers when immersed in the experience

Sometimes the personal experience is far from friendly, too. In fact, the guy at the local cheese store barks at people, but we all obediently shuffle up and don't complain. We know the treat will be that we will get the perfect cheese every time. He wouldn't sell us what he needed to sell because it was going off. He wouldn't sell us the most expensive cheese. He only introduces us to the perfect cheese for our mood. It is always an experience.

The Boutique Era don't look at their habits as 'better' or 'gourmet' (although some do, it's not part of the core experience, in fact, the less it is about the snobbery, the better the experience). The basic underlying thread is the desire for experience rather than just consumption. Craft over commodity. Boutiquers can enjoy a $7 bottle of wine with the right story and even more with the right $3 cheese and baguette, so it isn't about money either (like the Trading Up book suggests).

It's about connection. Community. Local village and neighbourhoods (even if it isn't geographically local or your neighbourhood).

It's about caring about individuals and saying so with our spending (sometimes). It's also about slow food, enjoying life and paying attention to the company we share it with (quite often).

And as per my last post, people from all sorts of areas, walks of life, motivations and desires are exhibiting these traits. What do you think it all means?

[The cheese shop in the photo was one of my faves in Toronto: Global Cheese. Kensington Market itself was spectatcular - a whole section of town dedicated to an everyday farmers market.]