I touched earlier on the feeling men get from possessing the best thing in any class of item. A man with a Bugatti Veyron, the first one to emerge from a James Bond film, someone with an iPhone: all feel varying levels of that top of the world feeling, at once embarrassing and deliciously captivating for them, allied with a sense that others’ experiences of life are basically inferior.
True, people who allow these thoughts to propagate are assholes who each deserve a good slap, but the way a status symbol makes the owner feel is worth understanding if we’re going to try selling products as experiences.
How does it feel to pick up and pay for a product one feels superior to others? Well, mostly it’s smugness. Irritating, infuriating, slimy smugness. Happiness that one has identified a product better than the others (therefore one is clever) and that, in the pursuit of happiness (one is self-aware) price is relatively unimportant (one is loaded).
Some will argue it depends, of course, on one’s concept of value, or more accurately our values. Are we interested in utility over image? Does the environmental impact of the product matter to us, or only if we expect visitors and fellow shoppers to notice our ethically sound choices? Then there are aesthetic and compatability issues, such as ‘will this work with my mac’ and ‘will this fit in my garage’ or ‘will this scratch my ass’…
Nobody wants to be laughed at for their choices, and in general nobody should be. People usually make approximately rational choices when buying things; most people don’t buy things they can’t use, though sometimes buy things they know they won’t. My mother’s treadmill, my friend Derek’s iPod Touch, the airbrake feature of the Veyron are all honorable exceptions.