The Humble Brag Economy

by Scott - No Comments

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As Will Dean so insightfully highlighted two evenings ago, the newest luxury goods are experiences.

The dominant conditions surrounding society have made it so. Generally we have less free time which assigns a higher value to anything devote our time to. We also have incrementally more channels to document and share our experiences (facebook, twitter, foursquare, etc).

The humbling result: many people, including myself, actively seek out experiences that provide “humble brag” opportunities.


Immediate examples that come to mind from my life in my quest to become…the most interesting man in the world:

  • Krav Maga Classes – Will I realistically use any of this? No, but what guy doesn’t want to say he’s taken Israeli self defense classes?
  • Running of the Bulls – Let’s risk our lives so we can tell people we did something cool!
  • Tough Mudder – I’m actually paying to endure torture. But that picture of running through a fire pit is going to be so worth it once its on FB!

Gravitation towards exclusivity has always existed; the proliferation of social media has just caused the flames to burn brighter than ever before.


You know that guy who only checks in when he’s in really cool places? Humble brag

That girl who only has FB albums that document exotic trips? Humble brag

That picture of the beer I brewed which I tweeted last night? Humble brag

More so than highlighting this dynamic to make others self-conscious or feel toolish, I’m hoping to expose the eminent market opportunities available around creating and exposing cool experiences. Sidetour? Yeah, there’s some humble brag in their fuel tank. Tough mudder? There’s more WOM around this event than the presidential election. All those urban email newsletters like Thrillist? Arms dealers for HBs.

People like to tell others when they do cool stuff. Sometimes overtly, other times implicitly through pictures, check-ins, and context clues. Entire markets for products and services are being created before our eyes by piggybacking on these conditions…and a few clever entrepreneurs are winning.

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