When I was a little boy, I loved playing with my toy cars and had a big collection of them. One day, I asked my dad which one of my toy cars was his favorite. He pointed to a white Cadillac DeVille convertible (the one Boss Hogg drove from the show Dukes of Hazzards). He asked me which one was my favorite. I pointed to an orangish-brown no-name station-wagon-looking car which was falling apart. “Really, why?” he asked. “Because it looks like your car!” I answered. (My dad drove a brown Chevy Malibu back in the 1980s) Ahh, such a young innocent mind, unpolluted by consumerism and the hypnotism of marketing ad execs.
Speaking of cars, a former neighbor of mine drove a Porsche 911. One day, I saw his wife get out of the car and she was visibly pregnant. My wife and I congratulated them as we just had a baby and remember what an exciting time it was. I also thought to myself: I guess he’ll have to get rid of that Porsche of his! I may or may not have had a smirk on my face when I thought this. I know, I know…I can be a little envious at times…I’m trying to work on it. Well after the birth of their baby, he did indeed get rid of the Porsche 911. No, he did not start driving a minivan. He started driving a Porsche Cayenne!
For all you Apple Fanboys and girls, you remember Apple’s Big Event this past September. It was a highly anticipated event as Apple was announcing new products and upgrades. There were lines popping up at Apple stores even before ANYTHING was announced! Before the event, there were rumors that Apple might be coming out with a line of watches. An iWatch perhaps? Jimmy Kimmel had one of his assistants go out to Hollywood to tell people that a Casio watch (with an Apple logo on it) was the upcoming iWatch. Watch the reactions of the Apple Brand Worshipers:
I found the clip pretty hilarious. It seems that Apple can do no wrong in the eyes of the consumers who worship the company and its products. I don’t want to bash Apple products. I have an iPhone so I shouldn’t be a hypocrite right? Apple products can be cool and intuitive to use. But with any product, sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we like it because of its functionality and what it helps us do, or if it’s because of the brand name.
So why are people so brand conscious? One reason seems to be that owning certain brands displays our status. Some see brands as a way to signal their individuality or demonstrate a degree of superiority. Having the same brands help consumers connect with each other and strengthen their sense of belonging to a social group. I’ve heard one too many Apple vs PC and Apple vs Samsung debates where the two groups are adamant that the product they support is superior. Those debates can get heated! Being part of a brand offers membership in a community with shared values and interests. It provides the consumer with a unique and satisfying personal identity.
Nick who blogs at Pretired.org wrote an interesting post related to this topic where he complains about Harley riders on their loud bikes:
The Harley brand is all about how it makes riders feel about themselves. They throw a leg over the bike, rev up their obnoxious machine and imagine that all the world is in awe.
Harley Davidson, Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahnik, Hello Kitty, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Ikea, among others enjoy a cult-like following. Consumers can be extremely passionate about the products that they buy.
“We love brands. We feel attached and loyal to them. We put them on a pedestal and worship them. The textbook explanation is that there is an underlying, magical essence that only good brands share. A great deal of hard research and attention has focused on finding and explaining this slippery essence. But that approach has led us down a long, dead-end street,” says Joan Khoury in a Forbes’ article.
There are internet forums dedicated to many of the cult brands and organized meetings where fellow brand worshippers can meet up and talk about the latest things involving those brands.
“Brands are the new religion…They supply our modern metaphysics, imbuing the world with significance…. Brands function as complete meaning systems,” says Douglas Atkins, author of The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers Into True Believers.
I don’t understand the emotional connection and devotion to inanimate objects. Such strong loyalty to a brand doesn’t seem to make sense. Why the extreme enthusiasm or devotion to a brand? I like certain brands. If I’ve bought products from a certain company and find they have excellent customer service and make quality products, I’d probably mainly buy those products. But I wouldn’t just buy every product they make no questions asked, nor would I have undying devotion to the brand.
Do you worship at the altar of Brand name products or know others who do? Why do you think people feel so strongly about certain brands?