2023 Top Trends Spotlight: Inclusive Exclusivity

August, 2023

More on this trend can be found in our Top Trends 2023 Volume 2 report. Click ‘Download PDF’ for the full report.

The Culture Shift:

The notion of exclusivity and “VIP access” is shifting as people make belonging an integral aspect of the luxury experience. In recent years, democratized information coupled with a growing reliance on content algorithms has spawned new modes of connection based on passion points, not wealth and privilege.

Spurred by prolonged periods of social isolation and growing societal and economic division, tight-knit, like-minded communities are redefining “insider status.” Those seeking out and creating high-end luxuries are forgoing traditional gatekeeping in favor of all-access connections, changing the relationship between brands and audiences in the process. Power dynamics have shifted — fans-turned-influencers and everyday stans are in a position to offer special perks or rewards to followers on behalf of beloved brands.

At the same time, new narrative tropes (e.g., HBO’s Succession (S4), Apple TV+’s Extrapolations (S1), Triangle of Sadness) are villainizing the rich, underscoring an emerging tension between old-world elitism and new-world egalitarianism.

Why it matters: 

Passionate fan communities of all kinds are turning VIP into VI-WE. Brands that curate experiences, “exclusive” rewards, and access based on niche community interests are poised to generate relevancy and loyalty for years to come.

62% of US adults 18-34 prefer to buy a product or service because it gives them access and a feeling of belonging to a specific community.*

Build status with perks that unite

Brands need to consider how they can create loyalty among passionate fanbases beyond the heaviest users with the deepest pockets.

An entertainment brand can entice niche communities and fandoms (e.g., Passionate Sneakerheads) to engage with show IP by creating character-specific tokens. Take a character whose wardrobe appeals to a sneakerhead, like Ted Lasso’s niche collection of kicks — IYKYK. Fans can use the tokens to unlock bonus content or exclusive niche community drops (like episode-inspired sneakers) that like-minded fans can experience together.

For the full report, click ‘Download PDF’ below.

*Source: Horizon Media Finger on the Pulse. Survey Fielded June 26-July 5; n=1,001

Other Popular Stories