As LUC approaches its 1,500th view I thought it an appropriate time to discuss a subject very close to my heart. Good taste is not something we are born with, nor is it something that comes easily to us without making the necessary effort. It is a specialty that is learnt by immersion much like learning a new language and varies just as greatly. Much like a general practitioner deciding to become a neurosurgeon it requires years of study.
Companies ranging from Bergdorf Goodman to Whole Foods, market themselves to their upscale, “cultured” clientele by establishing themselves as curators of good taste. They manage this by becoming involved in the lives of their consumers and studying their interests to near perfection. However, like any niche market, good taste is highly subjective and can delight one person while offending another. So that leads us to the question, how does one establish themselves as a curator of good taste?
As far as I can tell it is a very arduous process but not altogether impossible. In my personal experience as a brand developer I can say that knowing your audience is definitely the most important aspect and knowing how one person’s interests affect anothers. For example, in my recent trip to Toronto I was introduced to a relatively new group named Austra featuring the melodic, operatic vocals of Katie Stelmanis who is a professionally trained opera singer. Somewhere in her career it dawned on her that her talent was multilateral and could appeal to several different audiences by introducing herself to the world of indietronica. No different from Bergdorf Goodman supplying Alexander McQueen to their more mature audience and Alexander Wang to their younger, more modern collective.
Good taste serves all who recognize it, offering choice makes sure that you do not leave any one out.
My own experience with this topic stems from several sources including my travels to Europe and throughout North America in addition to my years of building relationships with young professionals in New York City from diverse cultural backgrounds. However it is not enough to merely amass knowledge and force it onto your friends and followers, it helps to test the waters and retrieve any and all feedback from one group to the next to really understand the thought process involved in choice.
Social media I have learned is an excellent modern take on the classic focus group, assuming that your friend list is representative of today’s global marketplace. Friends as Facebook has taught me can range wildly from those closest to you to acquaintances and business professionals that you may or may not have ever met, offering you a plethora of subjects to learn from.
Good taste tip of the day: Go out and try something you have never tried before. An Indian dish you’ve heard a lot about or pay attention to the country where the fabric of your new shirt was made (personal faves include Turkey and India, not China.) Or perhaps you are in the mood to try a new wine, in which case I suggest trying my new favorite Grenache (preferably from Spain) which is surprisingly one of the most widely planted grapes in the world and until recently the least talked about.
Be open to learning new things but choose your sources wisely, differentiate between those friends you would choose to learn from and those who have good taste.