Monday, July 21, 2008

Dialogue With Stuff

I've had previous posts about dialogue - a must for us humans. But I've just started reading the new book Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy And Who We Are by Rob Walker.

I really haven't thought about having a dialogue with stuff. When I go to the grocery store, I don't think "Sorry Kellog, but General Mills and I have been having an affair - I'm secretly addicted to those Lucky Charms." It is somewhat of a boring chat at times, but I suppose what I buy not only says something about me, but I'm communicating something back to the marketplace and to the public. It is certainly true that I'm communicating something when I wave my new iPhone in front of my jealous Mac friends.

Listen to this quote (p. xii):

I use the word dialogue because what I'm talking about is not a one-way process. It's not simply about the intrinsic elements of, say, Red Bull. It's not just about what a product is made of or what it's supposed to do. Nor is it just about a brand image that is invented by experts and foisted on the masses, who swallow it whole. Any product or brand that catches on in the marketplace does so because of us: because enough of us decided that it had value or meaning and chose to participate. Because of the dialogue between consumer and consumed.

What if you made a list of what you've bought over the last week or month and handed it to someone? What would they deduce about you? It might be a fascinating social experiment to post that list and see what people have to say; and it might not be what you are trying to communicate.

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Shayna Willis said...

I'm doing it.

John Vaught said...

Well, since you're doing it, I'm going to do it. I will write down what I buy over the next week and then post it, at which time you can make pronouncements of who I am, such as "You are a boring middle-class suburbanite" or "You are a tree-hugging middle-aged hippster." I'm sure you can come up with even better ones than that.