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March 2019 saw the first ever PerifaCon, a free pop culture and comic convention held in a low-income district in São Paulo, Brazil. The event aimed to bring ‘nerd culture’ to communities generally unable to afford the price of Brazil’s mainstream conventions, such as Comic Con Experience (CCXP). With 45 artists and 24 speakers, PerifaCon attracted more than 4,000 attendees and gave the local community access to games, talks, cosplay competitions, and K-pop performances.

This example packs a one-two punch of takeaways for you to Marvel at ;)

Hidden heroes. With almost every mass offering there are groups who are ignored and, therefore, left out from a wider experience. It’s an uneasy fact of consumerism. The organizers of those events aren’t typically malicious. Sadly, they often don’t even realize who is being left out. This example is a powerful reminder, that something which may seem fairly or reasonably priced could be excluding a passionate segment of customers. Out of the seven organizers, only one of them had been able to raise enough money to attend CCXP, and he couldn’t eat any of the food while there. These individuals turned their exclusion into motivation. By making their event free, they blew up the traditional model and delighted thousands in the process. Talk about superheroes!

Community will save us. Few of our readers are based in markets that aren’t experiencing the dual (interlinked) threats of cultural polarization and social isolation. One thing we can all learn from the ‘nerds’ – and we use that term with pride – is the power of getting together in person to celebrate a shared passion, meet heroes and learn from each other. Retailers from Cotopaxi to Selfridges are increasingly embracing the power of this. What would a meetup for your customers look like? What would they celebrate, debate and learn from? And how, like Perifacon, will you cast a wider net than ever thought possible?

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