A global shift toward individualism has led to a surge in side businesses and a renewed appreciation for what makes people unique.
About This Trend:
Historically, societies could be categorized as either “collectivist,” or valuing family and group goals over the individual, or “individualistic,” meaning they generally celebrate individual achievement and encourage people to rely on themselves and their immediate families. A very simplified way to categorize countries this way was to identify the East as collectivist, and the West as more individualistic.
Now, research has identified a rising wave of individualism across the globe, and this shift is shaping new attitudes toward what makes people unique, and turning quirks into an asset that nurtures company culture and inspires successful businesses.
This trend has manifested itself in different ways in different regions of the world. In the East, and China in particular, the path to rising individualism is found online. Young people are using the Internet to further cultivate their own identities and express themselves as they cannot in the real world. In Korea, where going out alone was once the habit of a social outcast (wangda), a new linguistic stem, hon, has emerged to describe activities done alone. In the West, corporate culture and business have embraced the rise of individualism as more people are investing in “side hustles” not just to make extra money, but to find purpose and an escape from routine, unrewarding life paths.
Today’s teenagers, or Generation Z, are starting to define themselves less by what is “cool” and more by what makes them different, nerdy, and different. Exposed to a blend of cultures from a young age, they have global social circles, care about the world, and have access to opportunities for engagement with people whose interests and passions help them create their own unique identity.
This has spilled over into corporate culture, as business leaders are beginning to celebrate the individual achievements of their employees, make use of their own quirks to connect, and show that they stand for something in a human way that generates emotional connections with customers.