Ryan Bigge, Toronto author and freelance writer, wrote an article recently in the Toronto Star called "Unlocking the desire code" - a summary of how "Marketing meets the modern psyche in a blend of business reportage, cultural anthropology and spikes of scepticism."
Bigge reviews a book by New York Times Magazine columnist Rob Walker called "Buying In." The book aims to show how meaningful objects are rarely chosen through rational means,but rather through narratives that we generate about ourselves in choosing a particular product. He claims that by unlocking the "Desire Code", consumers will go through a whole series of rationalizations that justify paying a $3 price for a tin of Red Bull. Rather than let marketing and branding campaigns try to create meaning for us, consumers should take the lead and generate stories about the stuff we buy. This story generation leads to greater word of mouth advertising on the basis that consumers will advertise and recommend stuff to their friends.
While this doesn't seem earth shattering from a marketing perspective, what's interesting is Walker's citing and use of research by famed professor and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Consumer products and buying decisions aren't always based on a rational approach...and objects often have underlying meaning based on how we define the narrative of the product and our interaction within it.
Why is it that nostalgic items often carry the most meaningful narrative? Do older objects carry with them a sense of connection? Do you think consumers believe the meaning that marketing and branding campaigns create for us - or are we becoming more cynical and skeptical about how products are presented to us?