“Lifestyle brand” is a buzzword that has lost meaning in the consumer economy. Either imposed or self-ascribed, companies with the label use it as a justification for their ambition to become much more than a brand, but a way of life. Some are branching out into new industries to become “livable brands”—Equinox, West Elm and Marine Layer, for instance, are entering hospitality. An array of companies—Alibaba, Sephora, Glossier—are embracing live events and live video to amplify their presence and lean into the experience economy. Brands affiliated with the music, film and sports industries—Alamo Drafthouse, Build-А-Bear, Rep the Squad, Nike—are maturing the consumer experience they offer, while others—Apple, Outdoor Voices, Goop—are attempting to create communities around their own brands.

When it comes to fostering a “lifestyle,” the vast majority of these brands are most often using the label as cover to do more of the same: attract consumers to spend money on products and services.

This report challenges the concept of a “lifestyle brand” and instead investigates brands that have or are on the path to attain prolonged cultural relevance—those that create, push forward, succumb to, evolve with or embed in culture.

This section of Unravelling the fallacy of the “lifestyle brand” accompanies:

Visit the Insight Collection to extract key lessons about why some brands seeking sustained cultural resonance succeed, but most fail.

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