In 2003, William Gibson wrote a prescient novel – Pattern Recognition – that explored the tension between art and mass commercialization in retailing, among other interestingly speculative themes. One area of GIbson’s focus was consumer fatigue against ubiquitous brands in an increasingly global and digital market through his metaphoric protagonist Cayce Pollard – a coolhunter who experiences and uses as a consulting tool her varying degrees of allergic reactions against mass customized and inauthentic brands. Cayce is reduced to wearing completely unbranded shirts and having to file the logo off of her jean buttons. Gibson’s metaphoric theme read more like fiction in 2003, in a world where the “World is Flat” was in full bloom, ubiquitous branding through social media was in its infancy and BRIC consumers were gobbling up global brands of Coach, Gucci, McDonald’s and Starbucks at double digit CAGR.
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