Living the Fantasy
I fail to be amazed at how we are sold by a story, the more far-fetched the better. I'm not talking about Harry Potter or Girl on the Train, I am talking about the story behind a product. Only two years ago I wrote a post about how the highstreet is starting Christmas earlier and earlier. Like a puppet master it dictates the holiday season by changing the scenery and the props on the stage, and like puppets we play along, falling right into its hands, perhaps willingly though sometimes self-destructively spending out and spending more each year.
At the time of writing that post the idea of the story behind a product hadn't fully formulated in my mind but it has since become apparent to me that I, and I'm sure virtually all of us are drawn in by a good old story. And it's this storytelling that makes up a crucial part of the shopping, or more specifically for the verndors, purchasing experience. I would like to think I am cleverer than that, to fall for an elaborate myth the ending being the product in front of me. But maybe we all NEED to dream...
Let me give an example, I recently discovered the magazine for the luxury jewellery brand Pomellato. On first inspection, their jewellery on display in store, let's say was more of a mature taste... luxury doesn't always mean tasteful- you made me say it! Despite that I browsed the thick pages of the magazine learning how the jewels were specifically sourced by an expert gemologist from far away places across the globe. How he picked them himself, these precious stones that may as well be their own currency for this specialist group of experts who meet in unassuming places to deal with one of the most assuming of things - these precious stones! I didn't realise that I had wanted to know what a gemologist is and what they do, until I had started reading. The mystery of the sourcing of the jewels with every word was debunked yet confounded. Suddenly the Pomellato earrings glistening at me from beneath the polished glass embodied one of nature's purest and most admirable of gifts, its components sourced and crafted just for me.
If it wasn't for this gemologist's tale and a few splatterings of pictures of Salma Hayek wearing these stones- who doesn't like Salms Hayek? - I would not have been phased at all, but I was sold by the story.
As I write this, a documentary comes to mind, that I stumbled upon last year, it threw light on certain dishes and foods that are simply in demand because of yes, that's right, the story behind them. A needle-sized fish that can only be sourced at a crucial part of the black sea in the first couple of days of winter; and can only be eaten the day it is caught, and caught strictly by hand, each scale meticulously removed with tweezers before smoking in a wooden cavern specifically made for it in bay-infused wood. OK I am making that up but there were similar tales to be told with people spending unthinkable amounts on thumb-sized portions of these things.
Still hungry, I am sure the fact that they tried something rare and inaccessible to the majority, would be the only satisfying element of their experience.
But we don't have to look to high end restaurants or stores to see this trend of buying. From Lynx ads where the guy gets the girl, to KFC ads where the family joyfully share a bucket we are given an enticing script that we want to act out and make real in our own lives.