Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You Bought What?

How do you choose what you are going to buy? Let's face it, you didn't just buy that _________ because it was the only one available and you desperately needed it. Did you realize that you just participated in building meaning into a cultural symbol? All those cliques and groups from high school are alive and well, with maybe a few more wrinkles and scars. You're still trying to take your school lunch and sit at the table with the geeks/jocks/cheerleaders/kickers/goths/etc. No one likes sitting alone.

Rob Walker, in Buying In (5), says that there are basically only a few rational (rational is a big assumption, but let's just go with it) ways to choose a product:

1) Price
2) Convenience
3) Quality
4) Pleasure
1/2) Ethics (more on this later)

What happens when there is very little difference between the products among these rational ways of choosing? For example, how much difference is there really among handbags? At, there are 32,363 choices. Is there a clear choice of number one based on quality? Apparently there is:

"Buying a $5,000 handbag just because it's a status symbol is a sign of weakness," states fashion icon Miuccia Prada (5).

Most of what you purchase, if you live in the USA, is based on your perceived identity, and thus brands. You might as well tattoo them on your head, Stephon Marbury style, 'cause you're already wearing them, carrying them, talking/listening to them, driving in them.

You can't really escape it, but you can be aware of it, and choose thoughtfully rather than as if you're trying to push your way onto that last seat at an already crowded table.

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1 comment:

crazykarl7 said...

I think that's the exact order I choose products on.