Just how gangsta is Cindy Gallop? All sorts. Screw making the world a better place – the only reason I’m into advertising is because one day I want to have a pad like this. Batman-flavoured, of course.
I own a 6-year old Fred Perry jumper. My mum has fixed it numerous times, and I am now contemplating furnishing it with elbow patches to make more of the most of it. I know I have just sounded like Jarvis Cocker, but longevity is something very few products/brands have achieved for me, and sadly, few brand owners seem to grasp. The combinant effect of quality, habituation and sentimental value is impossible to downplay, and I am not talking Patek Philippe here. A well made jumper is not too much to ask of a jumper manufacturer, after all (although I do admit mine is extraordinarily well made and cared for.)
I wonder what brand owners think of this. Are there any lapsed customers that are really just quite happy with what they have purchased? Can this unlock a powerful insight about your brand? For example – two million Britons still happily own jeans they bought 40 years ago. Similarly, a lot of people tend not to repeat certain truly remarkable experiences, simply because they don’t want to spoil a perfect memory. More crucially – they will hold that experience in high regard, and tell others about it.
Motives for this specific kind of high-engagement non-purchase are likely to differ across categories. Similarly, what people get out of it and what’s in it for brands varies, but it is an interesting territory just as well.
For some people, this is about taking a moral high ground, which is not a majority behaviour but an influential one all the same. I firmly believe that as part of an emerging culture of abstinence, we will be increasingly defined by what we don’t do. In that context, saying No to most things, means that the things we say Yes to, are higher-engagement, carefully considered and crucially important choices.
And of course, there is something unarguably smart and flattering about having purchased something that has performed its duties exceedingly well, has lasted ages and revalidates itself as time goes.
So I would argue that there is a role for planning to interrogate non-purchasing behaviour and customers. These audiences can be powerful mediators, and rich sources of product insight.
When I was a kid I remember imagining what a parallel mirror-image of the universe would be like (actually, my 11-year old self morosely concluded that we’d be the opposite of living, i.e. dead) If such a parallel universe for the ad industry existed, it would be a planned obsolescence industry. And I’d hate to be the planner on that.
Image source: Barbara Kruger, used absolutely without permission.