Friday, April 4, 2014

When You Buy a Thing, All You're Buying Is The Thing

Hey everyone. Just wanted to take a moment to remember that when you're buying a product, be it a toothbrush or a car, all you are getting is the product. You're not getting any kind of intangible benefit. You're not cooler, richer, funnier or having more fun, unless you became any of those things through actual use of the product.

Some car advertisement, I don't remember for what company, but there was an advertisement during the Super Bowl that purported to sell, not the car, but the idea of luxury. Their strategy was to link the concept of luxury inextricably to the car, so that people would buy one with the expectation of the other.

This is something we see all the time, and it kind of drifts out of mind how crazy it is. Perfume makes you sexier, as do infomercial push-up aids. Paintball makes you cool. Cell phones make you hip. Shopping at Brooks Brothers instead of Target makes you classy. Taking X pill will make you happy.

All of this is absolutely wrong.

It's just perfume. It's just a push-up device. It's just paintball, a phone, a store and a pill. There is nothing special about it except what the product itself actually does, to the extent that that is special.

This is a good thing to remember.


Korinthia Klein said...

Maybe. It depends. Sometimes you're buying a memory, or beauty, or a piece of history. My kids and I collect Mold-A-Ramas. There is no reason to own a Mold-A-Rama other than for what you choose to imbue it with. For us it's reminders of adventures together and places we've been. When you buy art it's more than a product, otherwise any two pieces of canvas with the same amount of paint would be equivalent. A historic violin is a tool, but also something to care for for the next generation. Even commercial products like perfume.... I bought a small bottle of expensive perfume once for a friend because the scent reminded her of her grandmother who had died years before. You're right that advertisers shouldn't tell us how objects should make us feel, but in my experience objects are more than their uses.

Andy said...

Oh, I agree completely. It's not a utilitarian world. I wasn't thinking of objects in terms of the memories they bring or the good feelings attached to them, but those are things that you bring, not something out of an ad campaign. Trying to sell a product by saying the product will make you feel or think or do x, y or z is more what I was getting at.

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