Leave the specs behind…welcome to the world of 4D

Just when I’ve finally got my head around all the talk and hype surrounding 3D, Bauer Media has only gone and ruined it all by introducing 4D. Admittedly, it has absolutely nothing to do with dodgy glasses and TVs, but is in fact the fancy new label for a new male demographic that is apparently emerging.

According to Bauer Media’s new research, the 4D man (which I now proudly class myself as) is not as tribal as his predecessors – the metrosexual and the lad, lives by a more “individual interpretation of masculinity than their predecessors” and is more interested in culture and his health. This new segment is supposed to reflect the shift to ‘retrograde hyper masculinity’, whatever that may be???

The problem with the media’s penchant for categorising and labelling consumer groups is that however much research is carried out they never quite capture the true essence of people and their behaviour. For example, if you were to ask yourself what defines the mid-20 male of 2010, then I think most people would be hard pushed to find a distinct trend or characteristic that couldn’t be applied to the female demographic as well. Whereas in the 90’s, men with their mod haircuts and Parker coats were only too happy to be swept along by the wave of lad euphoria. While the ‘metrosexual’ tag of the noughties was more a concept born in the pages of women mags rather than a true reflection of common male behaviour itself.

You could argue that Facebook is the modern equivalent of the punk Mohawk, the Teddy Boy quiff or Beatles’ bowl cut and is in fact more of a powerful tool of self expression and personal identity than any previous cultural trend. Could it be that the digital revolution has sound the death kneel for the cultural icon??? When your personal identity can be painted more vividly through your status updates, profile picture, photos, groups and comments, the psychological need to physically represent who you are or how you want to be perceived has [arguably] diminished as a result.

Think 50s, think Elvis. Think 60’s, think Woodstock. Think 70’s, think Punk. Think 80s, think Club Topicanna. Think 90’s, think Britpop. And think 00s, think iphone. More than any particular fashion or music scene, nothing represents our lives today (the central role of technology, our insatiable appetite for information and self expression), more than this iconic electrical device.

Where does this leave magazines such as FHM, Q and Empire? Where does this leave marketers? Well with the challenge of targeting an audience defined less by collective consumer groups and more by the apps on your phone…marketers good luck!!!