“Humanism” is friendship, sensitivity and trust that people have for each other. All have been suppressed during the industrial era where assembly lines demand only precise logic of technology.
However, the material and production efficiency-based economy ha reached the end. Intelligence and fierce competition have brought such increasingly higher quality and diversified products for human that nothing material is left to overcome. Meanwhile, the kingdom of feelings and pleasure has long been ignored, leaving abundant loopholes of opportunity to be discovered.
The creative economy, therefore, has become a national agenda of leading countries in order to capture the market of pleasure and creativity which is wide open and full of opportunities. Of course, movies, music and all kinds of entertainment are burgeoning commodities in the industrial era. However, the production method is based on mass production, which focuses mainly on accessing to mass public, i.e. delivering same kind of aesthetic pleasure to customers with different characteristics and tastes without taking into account each individual’s sensitive emotions.
The creative economy is not about putting “creativity” into products and services as normally done in the industrial age. Instead, “space and flexibility” is needed to adjust the products to suit each customer’s specific taste. The R&D seeking the best technology for everyone may have to be replaced by the R&D seeking a “aesthetic pattern” that is flexible and open for each customer.
To design diversified products to satisfy each customer’s inner demand may increase production cost immensely. However, it should be noted that consumers nowadays are wealthier than in the past. They are fed up with mass-production goods of the industrial era, therefore, are open to sensitive and humanized products that correspond with their own unique personalities despite drastically higher prices.
Of course, most customers do not have enough capital to pay for customized products. However, they are willing pay for higher prices to avoid mass-production goods. Therefore, intense research must be carried out for creative products to segment customers with similar tastes, and manufacture limited-edition items to fulfill customers according to their purchasing power when compared with “uniqueness” variable with the amount of production.
“Humanism” is far broader than diversified products suitable for customers' different tastes. It is also about paying attention to human sensitive emotions and feelings. It is beyond functional and aesthetic elements. It includes warmth, trust and even friendship.
It is a high-end coffee shop which may not make the best coffee but it offers customers a chance to make it how they want. However, Starbucks quickly became a mass-production brand as their chain stores rapidly multiplied. This may have decreased the quality of its products and services and the aesthetic beauty of its atmosphere. What remains “charming” about the place is its attention to details of humanism portrayed in “small round tables”, which makes customers who sit all alone don't feel so lonely.
Small round tables may not help improve Starbucks' image as its humanism has been lessened by the increasing amount of chain stores. But these small round tables are what other coffee shops overlook.
The unclear definition of “humanism” may irritate traditional marketers. But if we want Thailand to grow sustainably by the help of the creative economy, we need to pay attention to humanism and have a positive attitude towards it. More importantly, an unclear definition, which varies by each individual, can turn out to be a marketing opportunity for creative entrepreneurs as they gradually materialize the concept of humanism to satisfy customers' demand in the new age where consumers are fed up with high quality and exquisite design. They want someone who understands their sensitive and vulnerable side amid the cold world of capitalism.
We can always argue that “green products” are just a way to feed the egotism of consumers who want to feel good about themselves for saving the world. Even so, it reflects a sensitive side of humans, which is something creative economy experts should keep a close watch on. This is yet to mention the fact that a number of middle-class Thai citizens, who are feeling alone amid material prosperity and bright city lights, are willing to donate quite a sum of money to a foundation as traveling expenses for a trip to teach disadvantaged children in a remote town.
Humanism is not a straightforward thing to reciprocate, as it is for material demand in the industrial era. But difficulty and a long waiting period can sometimes be desirable, just like when you queue up for an expensive Ferrari and have to wait for years in order to own it despite knowing that it might not provide you with a comfortable driving experience that Lexus has to offer for a much cheaper price.
The creative economy may raise some doubt for many people as they see it as just a trend, especially when they cannot figure out what kind of “creativity” will add such a significant value to products and services that it can be established as a new economy.
But if they understand the core meaning of “humanism”, they can see the bright future of the creative economy, under which creativity can be used to seek and fulfill sensitive emotional desires once completely shunned in the industrial age. From now on, humanism will be a valuable asset of every part of the creative economy.
Translated by Siritharin Chareonsiri