the grass is greener on the internet

Give me something I can touch
April 22, 2009, 4:28 pm
Filed under: 1 | Tags: , ,

Not by any means a new trend, but I’ve been reflecting nevertheless on the recent demand for tangibility.

It’s become particularly popular for charities over the last year or two, especially with programs like Oxfam Unwrapped. It was a simple transition to go from ‘this money might feed a village for a year’ to ‘you just bought a goat’; shifting the frame along the continuum from donation to investment.

The public got sick of being told to give and give without ever seeing results. When put simply it comes down to conditioning. We do good things when we’re younger because when we do them we’re given rewards or approval; we see a link between doing good and good happening to us. When you’re older you can rationalise that someone else is going to do good if you give them your money. But if you don’t see any benefits resulting from your actions, after a while it works to condition you too; you try to do good, nothing happens that you know of.  No more good feeling from giving.

It’s now a recession trend too though.

After buying those choses in action, so many of which went horribly wrong – the derivatives, the risks, the loans, shares even… Many want to know exactly what they’re buying, the more tangible the better. Give me an object, give me something I can touch, and at least it can’t become nothing or less than nothing.

So now we invest in gold (some banks proposing to allow you to physically view gold bars and take them home), jewellery which is worth far more than it looks (Melbourne jewellers e.g.etal have created a simple gold band which hides tiny spherical rubies on its inner side – assumably so it’s easier to slide off your finger :P).

What are the implications for branding?

We talk about brand as an asset, as well as goodwill. Unfortunately goodwill doesn’t pay the bills.

This makes it harder to prove to management that it deserves investment, and this has been discussed to death. But it also means buyers are more likely to question, what’s in this brand? Does it really deliver more than its rivals to justify a higher pricetag?


What if the public comes to feel about brands the way they have about giving? That there’s no corresponding benefit from the brand?

How would you make your brand give a tangible benefit?


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