An assumption popular now in the blockchain space reads that consumers are not interested in blockchain technology and how it works. As this notion has been internalized, product developers and Bitcoin theoreticians have parroted this. But what if it is simply untrue?
Many Bitcoiners have made this fateful potentially false conclusion. Just this past November, Brock Pierce claimed consumers do not care about Bitcoin. Perhaps consumers do care about where their products come from. That sentiment is highlighted in the popular show Portlandia, when the show’s protaganists ask about the life story of the free range chicken they’re about to eat. As Pierce said about Bitcoin:
“[Also], the things where [Bitcoin] is buried where — you know, we love a company we just invested in called Abra where they’re using Bitcoin, but they’re not telling that to the consumers because a consumer just needs to get money from here to the Philippines. They don’t care how it gets there; they just want to know that it’s going to get there, it’s going to get there faster, it’s going to get there cheaper, and that they’re dealing with a reliable or credible service.”
Many technocrats, such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, have written about the political awakening of people all over the world; that is, whereas in the past people did not care about the political processes of which they were apart, today they do care, and they are making themselves aware of the issues facing humanity today.
This political awakening could very likely predate a consumer mentality that does, in fact, care about the products used even more so than today. That means, millennial consumers today and tomorrow could think twice about the fintech products they use. As Brzezinski wrote in The New York Times :
“For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.”
An informed consumer does not necessarily forebode negative results for blockchain technology. If blockchain companies trust the consumer to be engaged in myriad aspects of blockchain technology, companies using blockchain products could use it as a marketing medium.
The blockchain stems from Bitcoin. Bitcoin became well-known as a counter-culture force out of cypherpunk circles. Companies commercially adopting Blockchain technology, once their assorted blockchain products are made available, can use their use of distributed technology as a selling point to push their products onto politically awakened millennials who are suspicious of Wall Street.
Myriad companies and brands have already adopted this strategy in relation to environmentalism. Since the seventies, consciousness regarding the natural world has increased so that many consumer choices are made in the modern marketplaces based on their effect on the environment.
With distrust of mainstream financial systems resulting in populist movements in both Democratic and Republican parties (Sanders and Trump, respectively), it reasonably could be but a short while before this consciousness informs consumer banking product choices. We see the use of Credit Unions has increased in recent years, a harbinger of my speculation.
The Green Team coined the term “Awakening Consumer” to highlight those consumers who consider a company’s or brand’s values in addition to the price/performance ratio of products. The Awakening Consumer demographic overlaps with the market segment called “LOHAS.”
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) represents a demographic ecologically conscious in regards to consumer choices. It’s generally comprised of an upscale and well-educated population. Paul H. Ray coined the term “Cultural Creatives” in his book, which bears that same title, detailing the phenomenon: “What you’re seeing is a demand for products of equal quality that are also virtuous.”
That same notion could one day be applicable to the blockchain.
Featured image from Shutterstock.