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Lemmy Kilmister: Unbridled, nihilistic hedonism!

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 01-29-16 at 9:58 a.m.

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On December 28th, 2015, the heavy metal rock scene lost one of its greatest personalities: Lemmy Kilmister, bassist, singer and main songwriter of the band Motörhead, who died at the age of 70. An emblematic figure of heavy metal, he perfectly embodied the values and motivations of fans of this type of music: unbridled hedonism, a need for thrills, a feeling of being marginalized by society, rebellion, yet at the same time, great authenticity.

The choices we make in life as citizens (for example, whom we vote for) or as consumers (the products and brands we consume) are not incidental. They are a reflection of our personalities, what we believe; in short, our personal values. And it seems this is the same when it comes to our musical choices. Tell me what you listen to and I'll tell you who you are!

Our work on people’s values reveal that classical music fans share values that are specific to them; this is also true for jazz fans, rock, or hip-hop music fans, etc.

Likewise, heavy metal fans share common values. An analysis of their values profile shows that they have many things in common. First of all, these fans are hedonists who seek extreme intensity, for whom pleasure trumps all. They are not afraid to take risks in life for the thrills they get out of it. They even find a certain thrill in violence (in fact, they are big hockey and football fans, particularly for this reason).

They also feel that they are living in the margins of society, expressing certain feelings of social exclusion and financial insecurity. These “mental postures” partially explain the “rebellious” aspect that we observe about them, a certain level of “openness towards civil disobedience” (that might also represent something exciting!).

In fact, they kind of get the impression that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. And since they feel they can’t do anything about it, they are trying to enjoy life to the fullest, sometimes to the detriment of their health (they make little effort in this direction), flouting convention and even sometimes established authority. They express a mentality of “the decline of the Roman empire”: better get the most out of life before it’s too late!).

If we pay attention to this type of music, its lyrics and the type of “melodies” it is brimming with, we realize that heavy metal beautifully expresses the values and mental postures of its fans: unbridled intensity, civil disobedience, nihilism, even the idea of braving death and the devil. It is apparent in songs such as At War with Satan, Welcome to the Jungle, Am I the Evil, Cowboys from Hell, Angel of Death, etc., as well as in the names of some heavy metal bands, for example, Judas Priest, Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, etc.

In addition to this, these fans also display an acute desire to belong, to feel integrated in a community or a group of friends. They like to experience emotional connections with others (to wit, the popularity of stage-diving and body surfing at heavy metal concerts).

They are also characteristically highly critical of large corporations. They don’t usually blindly trust businesses. As consumers, although they keep an eye open for new products and services that are bound to give them pleasure (for instance, they like gadgets and video games), they’re savvy and critical-minded. It’s the product or service itself that gives them pleasure, not the act of consuming.

Finally, note that they have a somewhat traditional view of male and female roles and tend to value patriarchal authority. Simply put, they’re a bit macho.

So, if you want to reach this clientele, what are the implications in terms of marketing?

First of all, you must win their trust by being genuine. Should you fail to do so, they will be merciless (they don’t take no bullshit)! They want things that are real and authentic.

Thus, Lemmy Kilmister, icon and founding member of the heavy metal group Motörhead who died recently, was really a caricature of this profile. Lemmy was a real and authentic character who lived a wild life focused on the pursuit of pleasure (sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll). He didn’t seem to care about his health at all in his desire to get the most out of life (in his own way), nor did he care about conventions, as he thought the world was going to hell, so why not enjoy it before it’s too late…?

It’s pretty incredible that he lived like this until he was 70!