Augmented lifestyles Pushing the limits
“We are also migrants wondering how far we can really push boundaries to reinvent ourselves, to escape from our identity or to find out if there is a potential eternity.” Florence Berthier, (Influencia.net, October 15, 2014)
People have a constant feeling of business, whether from work, family responsibilities, social activities or the constant feed of information and interaction coming from their digital devices. It seems that leisure is no longer a status symbol – business is. Also, in the professional sphere, “slashers” are becoming a thing; among them are creative professionals who tend to deal with multiple activities such as music, photography, design, and much more – see Karl Lagerfeld who is a fashion designer / photographer / DJ / icon, etc. The trend has extended to other industries, and is particularly relevant for young adults who are accumulating jobs as a waiter / actor / anonymous / unpaid intern and are juggling with different statuses. For some, there is a financial goal, for others, a will to gain autonomy or escape boredom.
A growing number of consumers feel the need to push their personal limits and incorporate excess, extreme, exuberance, and eccentricity in their lives.
They are passionate, hyperactive, and engaged with their time. With lifestyles getting more pressured and constrained, people are going through compressed experiences to find spontaneity and live moments of relief or escapism. A growing number of consumers feel the need to push their personal limits and incorporate excess, extremes, exuberance, and eccentricity in their lives. Living to the limits – that is the motto of those who seek to bring intensity in their leisure time and professional lives. Behaviors become more extreme as people look for big thrills, strong feelings, greater risks and illicit highs.
Once the domain of a brave few, going faster, higher and more dangerously is getting attractive for a growing number of people – and even more so the younger generations. Sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies hunt for ever-more-hardcore events to test their physical limits. In the U.S., skateboarding has surged 49%, to 14 million U.S. participants in 2008; snowboarding now claims 7.2 million participants, up 51% from 1999; mountain biking has an estimated 8.6 million participants. Overall, the total number of participants in the five most popular extreme sports is more than 40 million in the USA alone, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts. Extreme sports offer an opportunity to challenge and express oneself, providing an atmosphere of cooperation instead of competition, which can help some people develop their self-esteem. At the same time, as society is becoming a lot more preoccupied with health and safety, companies are seeing more risk- averse people also looking for alternative ways to experience those risky situations.
In the U.S., skateboarding has surged 49%, to 14 million U.S. participants in 2008; snowboarding now claims 7.2 million participants, up 51% from 1999; mountain biking has an estimated 8.6 million participants. Overall, the total number of participants in the five most popular extreme sports is more than 40 million in the USA alone, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts.
Eric Brymer, (A Phenomenological Perspective on the Extreme Sports Experience, 2005) explains this infatuation with the potential of extraordinary human experiences that sports bring by putting the participants outside of their comfort zone -which often comes in conjunction with adventure travel. It used to be considered as counter-culture behavior, but the presence of ski cross at the Winter Olympics, or BMX at the Summer Olympics has given more visibility to such sports while media and advertising (see Red Bull, which pours millions of dollars each year into action sports tournaments and events that support the “substructure” of the sports, grasping action sports as a lifestyle rather than a competition, Coca Cola, The North Face, etc.) have democratized extreme sports’ image to the masses. This momentum has benefited extreme sports brands as many of those who buy into them do so as a lifestyle, rather than a passing fashion trend.
At the opposite of the trend for an authentic, natural appearance, the mood in style and beauty is at the same time going for bold, maximal, theatrical faces as well as superhuman bodies. Whether naturally or artificially, people are looking to temper their physical appearance in order to reach ideals or create fantasy bodies.
In 2010, 1 French consumer out of 10 had a tattoo versus 17% of the 15-30 year old demographic in 2014, according to research institute Ipsos. South Koreans are leading the trend with 0,65 plastic procedures for 1,000 people in 2012, said The Economist. In the U.S., nearly 30% of consumers are considering a cosmetic procedure, according to a survey from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
Today a growing number of people are opting for artificially enhanced bodies through both soft and hard procedures, motivated by self-expression, convention breaking or big thrills. Increasingly acceptable and accepted, these post human transformations reveal a will to transcend reality, augment one’s performance and live an augmented life. In recent years, access to tattooing and plastic surgery has been democratized and consequently gone mainstream. In 2010, 1 French consumer out of 10 had a tattoo versus 17% of the 15-30 year old demographic in 2014, according to research institute Ipsos. South Koreans are leading the trend with 0,65 plastic procedures for 1,000 people in 2012, said The Economist. In the U.S., nearly 30% of consumers are considering a cosmetic procedure, according to a survey from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. At the same time, human augmentation is already well underway as technology is facilitating reconstruction of body parts thanks to high-tech prosthetics. With the buzz around Google Glasses and Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius’ speedy artificial legs, the notion of creating a better human body through machinery and computers is getting heard. Fundamentally transforming the human condition, body hackers are making their body a field of experiments by implementing all kinds of artificial components (pacemakers, RFID chips, implants, magnets, etc.) to “enhance” their sensory functions. In the same vein, transhumanism is developing and making widely available technologies to improve human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Strength-amplifying robotic exoskeletons are no longer the stuff of Hollywood costumers and special-effects wizardry but are here, changing the way we’re able to work and live.
Tattoo Me! by Sephora
Getting tattooed is moving into the makeup space. Sephora’s Tattoo Me! is an applicator pen with an ink-stamp tip that women can use to stamp temporary tattoos onto their skin.The applicator, a marker reminiscent of childhood stampers, comes in anchor, skull and star designs and can be used anywhere on the skin. The ink comes off with water (to some users ’dismay, it’s not waterproof) or any oil-based makeup remover.
United States, June 2013
Degree Men by Unilever
Degree Men, a deodorant by Unilever – with ‘brands in action’ as a tagline – launched a marketing campaign to showcase four of the world’s top extreme sports stars. Degree Men has unveiled a series of videos, called “Masters of Movement”, which featured extreme-sports figures such as Man vs. Wild star Bear Grylls, big mountain snowboarder Travis Rice, BASE jumper/sky diver Miles Daisher and mountain biker Darren Berrecloth. It also allowed social game players to watch their two-minute videos in order to earn points, which were translated into a currency that could be used in the game they were playing.
United States, May 2012
Inside the brain
Michigan-based scientists are currently attempting to implant a tiny computer inside the human brain, aiming to make people more intelligent. Instead of using traditional silicon chips made of nanoparticles, the data storage process could resort to tiny particles suspended in water – a process also called ‘wet computing’. The amount storable in the brain could be a terabyte’s worth of data, representing thousands of hours of audio or video – way more than the gigabytes on USB sticks.
United States, July 2014
US scientists have developed a sensor that could be tattooed onto people’s tooth. The tiny device can then diagnose an infection and directly transmit that information to a doctor. It could come in handy for military personnel in the field to determine whether a wound has become infected, or in hospitals where patients with weakened immune systems are extra vulnerable to bacteria.
United States, March 2012
Business & Marketing guidelines
|Going faster, higher and more dangerously is getting attractive for a growing number of people – and even more for the younger generation. Extreme sports enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies hunt for ever-more-hardcore events to test their physical limits.|
|Showcase action sports as they try to tap into a rapidly growing fanbase. That translates to an expanding revenue stream for the sports’ top athletes.|
|Dare to be highly creative, as creativity will be appreciated by extreme sensation seekers who have an appetite for risky stuff and daring practices.|
|Provide your consumers with intense experiences – whether connected to or disconnected from your brand activity – that give them a sense of escapism, but always in a safe way.|
- Both the constant feed of information, interaction with digital devices and the slasher phenomenon may mean that leisure is no longer a status symbol – business is.
- People are going through compressed experiences to find spontaneity and live moments of relief or escapism. They need to push their own limits and incorporate excess, extremes, exuberance, and eccentricity in their lives.
- Overall, the total number of participants in the five most popular extreme sports is more than 40 million in the USA alone, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts.
- People are tempering their physical appearance in order to reach ideal or fantasized bodies through soft to hard procedures including tattooing, cosmetic surgery, body hacking or transhumanism.
- Nearly 30% of consumers are considering a cosmetic procedure, according to a survey from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery
Experts that we recommend
Marketing Vice President at Red Bull North America
French multimedia artist & author of cyberpunk science-fiction books and art performances
French philosopher & transhumanism specialist & author of book L’homme simplifié, le syndrome de la touche étoile (Fayard, 2012)
French Technology journalist & cyberpunk culture specialist & author of book Optimiser son cerveau (La fabrique des possibles, 2009)
American designer & author of Primo Posthuman (KurzweilAI.net, 2002)
French doctor & NBIC expert & author of book Adrian Humain 2.0 (Naïve, 2013)
French body hacker
French extreme body practices sociologist & author of book L’Adieu au corps (Métailié, 2013)