Enter The Express Arena

A complex and dynamic space of brands that help consumers express who they are – as they navigate a changing world.

Once the preserve of luxury brands, these days expression comes at many price points.

Today, business’ major opportunities and existential threats are less likely to come from the usual suspects at the heart of their industries then they are from what’s happening on the fringes of consumer change.

Why should an insights leader care? Because, today, competition comes from other categories that address similar customer needs, desires or motivations. It may also come from categories that compete for the same customer resources, such as money and time.

BTS X McDonald’s Collaboration Merch, Melting Collection, (courtesy of Weverse shop).
Sneakers Ande Dem, (courtesy of Popular Cooperative of Street Vendors of Barcelona, SCCL / Top Manta shop).

Getting ahead of this competition means getting to human truths.

This interactive report – the second in our series – explores what we call the Express arena: the broad, complex and dynamic space where brands compete to address customers’ fundamental motivation to shape and express our individual identity, all while navigating shifting societies.”

Within this, we have identified a key shift.

Traditionally, products, experiences and brands would signify economic capital.  The advent of the knowledge economy and the 2008 financial crisis produced a shift towards the expression of intellectual capital. The past few years’ debates around inclusion, equity and climate change has sparked the need for products, experiences and brands that represent our ethical capital too.

As a result, the palette of choices that express who we are now vastly exceeds the traditional landscape.

Read on for Global CEO Jessica DeVlieger’s Express Arena overview.

Decorative basketball with Gucci logo (courtesy of Gucci shop).
Lauren Greenfield/Institute.


Economic Capital

A look back at the ostentatious tribes of the early 2000s, through the lens of Lauren Greenfield, director, anthropologist and author. Lauren directed the award winning ad campaign, “Like A Girl”.

Michelle Groskopf for The New York Times.

TO →

Ethical Capital

A detailed look at one of today’s most lucrative and powerful contemporary tribes, connected by the belief that “health is wealth” and the Erewhon Grocery in LA, via The New York Times.

Explore consumers’ shifting identities, values and ideologies.

The Renaissance of “Me”

By default, we tend to look at one thing as “better than” another. It doesn’t really matter what it is. You can believe that “more is better than less”. Or “less is better than more.” It’s that one is “better than” the other. Coke is better than Pepsi. Pepsi is better than Coke. Red is better than Blue. Blue is better than Red.

Generation Wealth

Looking back at the ostentatious tribes of the early 2000s

Identity Theory from Americus Reed

Wharton Professor and Identity Theorist Americus Reed shares the opportunity that deep customer understanding presents and why, as professionals, we sometimes still struggle to hit the mark.

Is your brand ready?

Neuroscience is teaching us that ‘self-expression’ might be one – if not the most important ways for people to connect, navigate and grow with each other.”

Judith Glaser

Global leaders give us their exclusive take

C Space Arenas

Customer Inspired Futures.

In partnership with


More than just a battle for attention, Play is the beating heart of acultural revolution. 


More than how we make ourselves look good, Express is a renaissance of “me”.


More than simply how we get from ‘A’ to ‘B’, how we live is how we move.


More than just connectivity, Connect is about the human truths driving our desire to connect.


More than surviving, thriving is believing you’re getting better at living.