Society status and your brand

I remember very vividly when the iPhone 8, 8 plus and the X were released. After viewing the new releases, 2 colleagues and myself decided deep down we wouldn’t buy the new iPhones. We even suggested to others that it was a waste of time. Why?

The iPhone 8 came out around £600, 8 plus around £800 and the iPhone X a whopping £1100. I remember asking myself who would pay £1100 for a phone.

Would it never die?

Was the battery finally going to last for a week?

Whilst I asked these questions in my head, I already knew the answer. There would be none of those changes. Instead, for an extra 500 plus, you got to animate your face and had a better camera. Yes it was hip and everyone was doing it. But was it worth it?

Suffice it to say, one of those colleagues now has the iPhone X, the other the 8 plus and I’m currently typing from an iPhone 8.

Hypocrite? Possibly

As innovative and effective as certain products might seem, Samsung over iPhone in this case, many people don’t buy “product features”. What people tend to buy is status / outlook, even without realising. You purchase a fast laptop because you need it for work. Awesome; why is it essential though? Because you want to feel and be seen as the person who completes work on time and effectively

The fast laptop helps you achieve that ideal feeling and scenario you have in your head. In this case, the outstanding features don’t matter a lot. It’s more about how the product makes you feel and look to others.

You need to start looking at these factors to have a better understanding of your customers.

How people see themselves

Here you have an idea of the kind of person you are. You believe you’re black, an athlete, an entrepreneur and so on. You believe you’re this person because you either relate with, practice the actions that surround that kind of person or both. We’ll go back to the laptop example for better insight.

Nae is a graphic designer who’s just recently graduated from university. She’s currently using an intel core i5 Dell laptop which runs okay. She sees herself as an “okay graphic designer” because she’s using an “okay” laptop. She sees her friends using MacBooks as elite designers. To her, MacBooks are cream of the crop; the ultimate tool for any designer.

How the public sees the person

Due to the way society views certain things, everyone has a category which they put other people into. Sometimes, the same mentalities are shared across majority of the group; other times there are varying ideologies spread out across. The way you feel about yourself and the way others view you might not be the same.

Bringing Nae back into the picture — let’s imagine she’s at an interview and she’s been asked to bring out her laptop.

Some employers may look at Nae’s laptop and conclude that the work she’s doing would be mediocre. To those people, anything not a MacBook would be regarded as an outrage.

To others, they may look past her laptop specs and ask her to show them some work. They would probably factor in one or two other factors before coming to a conclusion such as her CV or her portfolio.

The ideal position

Bringing Nae in again —

She understands that getting a MacBook would open up a lot of opportunities. She’d be able to feel and be seen like the person who has the ability to do an excellent job. Coupling that with the confidence in her skills would be the best thing she could do for herself. The next question which now comes to light is —

Does she have the money to buy one?

Going with the event that she doesn’t, depending on how satisfied she is with her laptop’s capability, one of two scenarios could occur.

If she’s satisfied and believes her i5 Dell can produce really good work, she’d be resigned to sticking with her current resources. She’s satisfied with the way she feels and isn’t entirely bothered by the way others feel. The only motivation to probably change would be if an unplanned event crosses her path i.e. the laptop breaks or she runs into some money.

On the other hand, if she’s not satisfied with the productions of her i5 Dell, she’d actively be looking to upgrade her situation. Here, it could be that she’s not satisfied with the way she feels, the way people feel about her or both. Her upgrade could involve a lot of things — borrowing money to purchase the laptop, borrowing friends’ MacBooks for projects / interviews, looking for part-time jobs to make more money etc.

The cookie crumbles in many ways.

One important thing to note is for any of these social scenarios, none of them constantly yield the same result. They all depend on the person’s satisfaction with their current position, their take on where they fit within society and the ability to change their position.

Everyone has an idea of where they’d like to be and how they’d like to be seen. There is no set formula to it unfortunately. Nonetheless, having a genuine interest in how customers look to align with their immediate society goes a long way in giving you a foothold over your competition.



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Kuro Onwuteaka

Kuro Onwuteaka

Nottingham based brand consultant & writer. Constantly researching encompassing brands