I thought the three marketers’ mind tricks that I named in my last post covered most of the territory. Today an ad popped up in the middle of an interesting article about Fidel Castro‘s subtle rapprochement with his Catholic faith – and I realized there was one I missed. Loyalty bling.
Back in 1979, social psychologist Henri Tajfel began to write about the way people develop a sense of their own identity according to the groups they belong to. Their family, of course, but also the sports team they root for, their favorite brand of beer, dog breed, or political party. Advertisers were not far behind: company logos became design features on everything. Even preschoolers recognize dozens of them. Online marketers send us pictures that match their estimate of the group we are most likely to identify with.
So, in the midst of reading about Fidel’s faith life, I found the text interrupted with an image of a flash drive disguised as a Benedictine medal made of PVC. They know I have a Benedictine connection. They expect that, at least for some, the plastic medal case makes the flash drive 4 times more valuable than the 16GB one I could get for $3.99 at the local drugstore.
Perhaps some have these drives more as an encouragement to prayer than to express an identity. Prayer that I don’t lose the drive, or that the files work as planned. (Uh-oh. St. Benedict is the patron saint of a happy death…)
At any rate, this is one more mind trick to bear in mind this shopping season. Some logo items generate a sense of connection when people gather. But beware the items designed to tickle that sense of identity in a way that won’t, in the end, have much impact.