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Makes No Difference

Today's big companies brew individualism in big, big vats. Do consumers really buy it?

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This story appears in the September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The world loves an individual, which explains Gateway computers' slogan, "People rule," and Burger King's promise, "Have it your way."

But what if your way is everybody else's way? Teens may think they're coolly clothed in T-shirts from Old Navy, while adults proudly display "unique" purchases from Pier 1. In reality, an "individual" in Massachusetts likely owns the same stuff as a like-minded person in Texas. Should we be disturbed by mass-produced individualism? Are people being brainwashed to believe where they shop makes them special? And how do entrepreneurs fit into a conformist/individualist culture?

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