"If everyone is on a diet, why are we lining up to eat a dozen biscuits at 3 a.m.?"
so busy, how can we watch two seasons of Orange Is the New Black in one weekend?"
Those are the questions I couldn't help asking, and the answers led to my marketing consultancy, Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve, tracking the BingeCulture Trend.
From food and alcohol to dating and entertainment, our consumption habits are morphing in shocking ways. The operating principle is a gleeful "gimme more!"
We call it BingeCulture, and here's how we define it: In a world where too much is never enough, we seek products and experiences that satisfy our craving to overindulge. Let's take a closer look.
Bring It On
We're binge-eating: Restaurants specializing in variations on excessive foods like mac 'n cheese, pigs in a blanket and fried chicken are opening coast to coast, and they're packed.
We're consuming culture in huge gulps. Immersive theater and six-hour plays are becoming the "it" events. Netflix streams to a series-hungry audience of over 44 million.
We're dating nonstop, too, with Tinder clocking 750 million swipes per day.
And there are no regrets: 73 percent of bingers feel good and guilt-free about their behavior.
So why binging, why now? Because the key forces in our lives are catalyzing like never before. They're creating a push-pull of desires, which is why BingeCulture is such a study in contradictions.
BingeCulture is both singular and communal. Because today's society is exhausting and often times isolating, we're hungry for escape and a connection with PLUs (People Like Us). Bingeing allows us to do all that, all while doing very little at all. We can isolate ourselves in our BingeCocoon and then emerge with the social currency of knowing what happened on every episode of Game of Thrones.
It's Good To Be Bad
From our gluten-free mania to our non-GMO crusades to our obsession with extreme fitness, our hyper-focus on health is wearing on us. We're looking for a chance to cut loose and indulge, while still staying protected from the dangers of the world.
BingeCulture allows us to reframe "negative" behaviors as rewards we deserve. It lets us feel good about being a little bad, about dosing ourselves safely with a tad of transgression. BingeCulture provides an IV-drip of resonance and relevance, while mainlining a frisson of guilt.
The Beauty of the Binge
By allowing us to focus all our attention on one thing in depth, BingeCulture gives us the feeling of unfettered indulgence, consuming in one big bite, a sense of control in an increasingly fragmented world.
It's a way to unplug and plug in at the same time. We want to get in a zone and stay there forever. Think of the millions endlessly playing Candy Crush, Flappy Bird or making it to the "A" list in Kim Kardashian's game (which is already on schedule to make a whopping $200 million dollars this year).
The New Status Symbol
The concept of Binge is elevating our tastes, rebranding the formerly mundane as culturally cool. Once middle-brow idea like biscuits and television becomes badges of cultural connection. It lets us escape the multiple demands on our time and shelter ourselves from stress.
The Business of Binge-ing
Our desire to inhale a whole season of shows or a dozen different artisanal desserts promises to re-spin consumer culture in surprising ways. Will Oreos be available in every possible permutation (we've already seen the Watermelon, Lemon Twist and Fruit Punch varieties)? Will Nestle open costal, bespoke Chocolate Tasting Rooms with dozens of delicacies? Will movies only be released as trilogies and quintets -- or will the surprise of a "one-off" galvanize viewers? And what about work-life: Will we go on month-long work binges, followed by sumptuous sabbaticals?
Read more about BingeCulture HERE and let us know what you think at Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve on Facebook, @PopcornBrains on Twitter, and at www.faithpopcorn.com.