The Olympics have quite rightly dominated the British Summer. The atmosphere at both the Olympic Park and Wembley were amazing.
One thing that surprised was that nearly every British fan at all the venues wore the Union Jack of some kind. Many people in Britain, although they might feel patriotic at times, feel uncomfortable wearing a sign that symbolises so many different things to different people. It had become embarrassing to wear the national flag. The pull of the Olympic spirit was so strong that people needed to demonstrate that they were part of the “greatest show on earth”. They needed to belong.
The need for belonging (and love) is the 3rd level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, perhaps the most influential psychological theory of the 20th Century. According to Maslow, we are driven by five basic needs – physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and finally self-actualisation. Under normal circumstances, he claimed, these needs are hierarchical – it is hard to feel safe, for example, unless our basic physiological needs are satisfied.
The interesting thing I noticed at these events was that although people were displaying their belonging (through their Union Jacks), they did so in a variety of different ways. Many people wore a wide range of Olympic t-shirts however there were a significant portion of attendees displaying their Union Jack in a more creative way from face paints to wacky hats. People were showing they belonged whilst also displaying individuality.
There is one thing that the luxury market can take from this. And that goes back to allowing consumers to engage with your brand to satisfy this seemingly conflicting consumer need. Allow people to belong to your exclusive club and let them express their individuality through a diverse range of your products and services.