The subculture. The group of passionate people who aren’t in the mainstream yet, and probably don’t want to be. Yet. But are an emerging power.
Think back 15 years ago. NASCAR was still a southern poor man’s sport, the Food Network was in its first year and the X-Games were still five years away. But through the years, they’ve grown. They’ve emerged into our everyday. And they’ve had something in common – a subculture.
NASCAR fans trek to their favorite track and spend 3, 4, even 5 days before the race tailgating and enjoying simply hanging out with other fans. It’s part carnival, part Woodstock, part family reunion, but all about food, fun and racing. Over the years, it’s built up fan base, so loyal other sports look to it for guidance. As the NASCAR subculture grew, so did the sport itself until it burst into popularity. New tracks were built in places like California, Chicago and Las Vegas (with one being built in New York right now). Corporations took note and what was once a sport dedicated to the “good ol’ boy network” was now about network television, Wall Street sponsors and big time money.
According to Forbes, “the average NASCAR team banks $ 12.3 million in profits, or roughly 15% of revenue” each year. Note that’s each team, staggering for a sport that, even today, carries a stigmatism of “low tech, low class and low budget”. Forbes also notes that Roush-Fenway Racing is valued at $ 316 million dollars, Hendrick Motorsports at $ 297 million, and Joe Gibbs Racing valued at $ 173 million. That’s big money which grew out of moonshine runners and hot rodders wanting to prove to each other who was the fastest.
And that’s the power of a subculture. It starts with passion, attracts others and grows like a tsunami and lands squarely on Main Street, USA. Look at the Food Network, watch how passionate the tv chefs are about eating. Watch the X-Games. Notice the shear determination the snowboarders, half-pipers and free stylers possess trying to pull off the next epic move. And then look around and see how many dedicated fans they have. The ones that follow their every move. Mimic their expertise and buy they products they use.
Looks a lot like NASCAR 15 years ago, doesn’t it?
Find the subculture and serve them. Think with 15-year vision, imagine how this group of people will grow and eventually become mainstream in the future. Then, later on, when Wall Street comes in, the networks take over and sponsorship money has to be brought in by Brinks, you’ll already be firmly entrenched, be an expert in what they want to know, have the contacts and connections they desperately seek.
In short, you’ll be riding the wave of the mainstream.
Brian Grossman is the owner of Wonderhouse Design in Cincinnati, Ohio, a design studio committed to authentic communication between client and audience and as much as possible, making it really cool.
More Subculture Articles