I see a lot of women carrying branded handbags and wearing designer clothes, striding confidently, wearing the logo (or logos) like a badge of honor. Some can afford the luxury items; some can’t. The quality of the products is generally good, sometimes superb. Nevertheless, how much something is worth is always in the eye of the beholder, in this case, the customer.
What compels someone to pay an often astronomical sum for a item is fascinating to me. The subject resides at the intersection of psychology and capitalism. An addiction to paying too much has hurt millions of people who end up with no savings, and no options, after a lifetime of hard work. It has also made fashion designers and retailers millions of dollars, provided by hefty profit margins on their goods.
One technique used by retailers is, obviously, the logo. A logo communicates different things to different people. To the customer who might buy the product, a logo might be a reassurance to the customer that the product is of a certain quality. More often, it is a way for the customer to communicate to others who they are, what they can afford, and which cultural ‘tribe’ they belong to.
The second technique is the brand ambassador. This is, usually, the owner of the company who appears sometimes in advertising and often in publicity efforts, touting his company’s brand by being an icon, or idealized customer, for the brand. Ralph Lauren is an obvious brand ambassador for his Polo brand. Richard Branson is the rock n roller who has made Virgin companies, from records to airlines, cool in the eyes of his customers. Examples abound.
The brand ambassador does one essential thing: he lives the life that his customers want to live. That ‘life’ (or a well-crafted image of it) is presented to the buying public with the not-so-subtle message that, if you want to live like this, you need to buy our product.
That desire to live a different life fuels illogical and often destructive purchases by consumers worldwide. Yes, a logo or a certain brand does sometimes ensure a certain level of quality. But we must take care not to go too far down this slippery slope: clothing and accessories we use everyday are there to perform their function, first and foremost, then be fashionable. Not the other way around. The products we purchase should also be in a quality/price matrix that makes sense, that’s within our budget.
Being overly influenced by a logo, or influenced by a brand ambassador at all, is a mistake. Let’s be aware. Let’s be independent in our purchasing decisions. Let’s let the goal of financial independence govern our financial decisions.
It’s the first step toward an Old Money life.