Looking at Millennial Metaphors #2: Container

The science of metaphor has the ability to satiate marketers’ enormous appetite for insights into the millennial psyche.  Having started the series with the deep metaphor of transformation, we move to container. 

The CONTAINER metaphor is fundamentally about keeping things in and keeping things out.   It is hugely prevalent and begins with humans and our bodies or selves as containers with an in-out orientation.  You see evidence of the metaphor when we describe how we are ‘brimming over ‘ with anger or joy.  Mind as container is captured when we are challenged to ‘think outside the box’ or ‘store memories’. Life itself is a container that can be thought of as ‘drained of life’ or ‘full of life’.   We live in the container of our culture.

We move from container to container and there are few human instincts more basic than territoriality, so we strive to make ourselves comfortable in containers such as hotels, workplaces, cars, theatres, sports stadiums, residence rooms, waiting rooms etc.    In fact, the experience of the container itself informs so much of what else happens in that container. As a coffee shop operator said ‘your physical experience can inform how the coffee tastes.   The atmosphere in the container forms your opinion of the coffee’.

Another container millennials inhabit is Facebook. Metaphoric exploration revealed that for some millennials, this container is framed as ‘Fakebook’, a container of constructed reality. On one hand Facebook hooks millennials into ‘living in it’ and ‘filling it ‘yet leaves some feeling dissatisfied or unsettled about the authenticity of friends and lives ‘captured in it.’   Does Fakebook ‘trap‘ some millennials in and if so what steps need to be taken for it to become a container of more authentic self-expression?

Understanding the container metaphor for millennials has relevance for categories from real estate to beverages to clothing to hotel rooms. Is the hotel room a place to escape, reinvent or something else? It is the understanding of how they frame or experience a particular container that dictates the likelihood of their entering or exiting, getting engaged with your brand or ignoring it.  Understanding the subconsciously held thoughts and feelings about the container can inspire design and services to capture their hearts.   

Our next blog will look at the deep metaphor of CONNECTION.