How Our Obsessions Are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are
Welcome to the “fandom-based economy”—where today’s most passionate fans drive, engage with, and create communities around top brands. In other words, they’re the people who’ll make or break your company. And in Superfandom—an in-depth account of the rise of fandom—Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer show us how to discover, and react to, the people who care the most about our products.
“Superfandom is the ultimate guide to making the most of the new fan-based economy. It presents the new way businesses interact with their customers, and it’s funny, too.”— Jonah Berger, Wharton Professor and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Fans aren’t just customers anymore—and we’ve come a long way since the stigma of so-called ‘geekiness.’ Today’s fans (and superfans) have transformed their relationship with the brands they love—and have driven billions in sales. In Superfandom: How Our Obsessions Are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are, Zoe Fraade-Blanar and Aaron M. Glazer offer fascinating case studies and up-to-the-minute examples of why getting fan engagement right is so essential. In funny, informed keynotes, they give everyone from traditional businesses to tech start-ups the tools and insights necessary to stoke the admiration (and imaginations!) of their most ardent base.
Zoe Fraade-Blanar is a technologist, teacher, and interaction designer. She is a faculty member at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) and the Studio 20 program at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She is also co-founder and Chief Design Officer of the crowd-sourced toy company, Squishable. Aaron M. Glazer is the co-founder and CEO of Squishable. Before founding Squishable, he worked as a business researcher, consultant, and journalist. He began studying non-traditional entrepreneurial models during his time at Johns Hopkins University. Both Zoe and Aaron have done a great deal of speaking at conferences and in an academic context.
Over the last two decades, fans—superfans—have moved from a fringe, outsider activity to one of the major economic forces driving modern business. Consumers buy products. But fans perform: creating content and community, evangelizing, and even making pilgrimages on behalf of your brand. They’re driven by feelings of nostalgia, identity, insidership, authenticity, and ownership. As such, they demand more from celebrities and companies than ever before. Brands that properly cultivate this two-way relationship can expect incredible returns (and those that don’t, well, don’t last very long).
In this keynote, Superfandom authors Aaron M. Glazer and Zoe Fraade-Blanar offer a business-minded survey of the modern rise of fandom, including case studies of brands that got it right, and those that got it wrong. As with all relationships, balance is key. Fans can be your most valuable asset for context and direction, but they can never take the place of solid business strategy. Winning engagement isn’t about giving fans what they want, but what they need—and with Glazer and Fraade-Blanar, your team can navigate this nuanced, give-and-take balance with unerring poise.
‘Big’ questions of human existence (Where do I belong? How do I find a mate? How can I be happy?) aren’t going away. But traditional tribal institutions—the organizations humans have turned to for comfort and answers such as religion, state, home-town, and family—while still important, are now understood to be fallible. So where do people go today to find a sense of community, and identity? In this talk, Aaron M. Glazer and Zoe Fraade-Blanar argue that the answer can be found in the pop mythologies and fan cultures around modern brands. Fans wear their identities on their sleeves (sometimes quite literally)—and are as likely to turn to Doctor Who or Game of Thrones as they are to organized religion. How do these mobile, educated, digitally connected people find what they love—then dive in? How do they find meaning and validation through brand-based narratives, beloved characters, and devoted community? And what does it all say about who we are—as consumers, viewers, readers, and meaning-makers? Forget geekiness and hysteria, outliers and the fringe—it’s time to understand superfans for what, and who, they really are. Us.