On aspirational products

penny-s-first-ride

I’m not what you would call your usual target for skateboards. I’m 26, I have a demanding job, I pretty much despise any outdoor sporting activity and it’s been a long time since I was connected to teenage trends — on the contrary, I’m starting to use shallow, annoying sentences like “I really don’t get Snapchat”.

However, I just bought a penny board. Even though I’m pretty convinced I did it mostly for personal image purposes — I fantasied more about making boomerangs with it than actually riding it — I waited for it to be delivered with the same joy I used to wait for Santa.

Now that I think of my motivation, there were two main drivers to my decision to get one. The first was the impact of what they call “influencers” — I know, I hate the word too, but apparently that’s what they actually are — the vloggers that I subscribed to and watch constantly all have penny boards, use them almost every day and present their benefits in a genuine manner. In less than 2 months, I’ve gone from ignoring their pennies, to starting to think they’re really cool, to, eventually, imagining myself on one.

The other driver was my friends’ impact. As soon as I found out they also want one, it confirmed my aspiration: I was going to get one too.

And so, I drew some common sense conclusions that I read about constantly, but only when exposed to them as a consumer fully made sense:

1. Product placement works great, but only when integrated in a natural, smooth way into the influencer’s life, showing that he or she actually enjoys it. If the product sucks or is unfit for its promoter, so will the effect. Approximately 5% of the product placement I see is actually aligned with the celebrity, its target and their interests.

2. Demographic-based targeting is, as everyone keeps saying, over. Interest-based targeting, on the other hand, is gold. Me and my friends that bought pennies have different ages, different incomes, different genders — but we all have common interests in our lifestyles.

3. Word of mouth often counts as the decisive reason to buy, and if it comes from people you know and trust, it’s all you’ll ever need.

4. Our buying behaviour may be shallow and unpredictable, but it sure ticks one big box: making choices that build our image in front of others and represent us.

That being said, I’m looking forward to seeing if I’m going to take more pictures with it than rides.

Leave a Reply