In this material world, where our might is judged by our possessions, it is very easy to make a wrong decision for the sake of satisfying our ego.
This blog is going to talk about ego as it concerns consumer business.
So, you go to a shop and shop for a tie-clip. You find one for $5. You like it and you want to buy it. But then you find another one for $10. Now you are thinking because it costs $10, it should mean that the quality i.e. materials, workmanship and ultimately the longevity of the product will be better. In most cases, this might also be true. But when you are about to make your choice, you see a branded tie-clip for $12. Of course, when you are about to spend $10 on a non-branded piece, you might as well spend $12 on a branded piece. Btw, what do we perceive of a branded item? Because it is branded, it means that the people who made it have been making it for sometime. It might also mean that the products they make might be of better quality. You now already sense that the objectivity of choice is blurring. Now when you have chosen to go for a branded item, you might as well buy a brand that not only you trust, but you think others might trust. Note at this point, you have started making assumptions. What assumptions? You assume that the people you socialize with know that brand. You assume that they not only know it, but also appreciate it for its quality. You also assume (here’s where ego pitches in) that people will revere you for the quality you wear. So, how much did you spend on a tie-clip worth $5? $20.
This is fine. $20 is not big. We can afford to stash it on a tie-clip. But our ego is big. Once we have established this pattern of buying things to feed your perceived ego, there’s no going back. Of course, you cannot wear a $20 tie-clip with a cheap tie. Buy a tie for $100 (remember what it is worth?). To match the tie and tie-clip, we buy expensive branded shirts and trousers and shoes. Why? You want to keep your legacy of buying branded stuff. Stuff that feed your perceived ego.
We dont stop with this. We extrapolate our requirement of ego satisfaction to bigger things. Buy a car. You can’t dress yourself like a rich man and commute in a cheap car. Note that at this point, your ego is largely served by your money. So we end up spending our money on buying things that we think other people envy. Be it a car or a house or dresses or furniture or home appliances or electronics or cell phones or a credit card. Honestly, how is your ego satisfied by getting a prestigious credit card, which essentially means you are a bigger borrower?
It is exactly this instinct that sellers exploit. At some point, they dont sell products. They are feeding your ego for money. American Express for instance markets its chosen line of credit cards as being “only by invitation”. Of course, when they say “by invite” you are seeking exclusivity for yourself. You are thinking you are among the chosen few. But you dont know that they have been selling this invitation on a DTDM (door to door marketing) basis.
You can clearly see that selling ego is prevalent in all cultures and in all countries. Some countries more than others. Countries which do this more are the ones where people believe in perceived might. No amount of money will absolutely make them happy. It is the feeling of being mightier than the person next door, that will make them happy.
The real estate situation in India is another example. I stumbled upon this advertisement that was selling multi-million dollar real-estates but mentioned they were “only by invite”. I mean how many people actually have the capacity to buy one of these properties? Not in numbers, but in percentage you agree that this is for elite. Elite people wont fall for this. It is the wannabe people who fall for this. Amritraj had this huge township in Bangalore, for which he was selling everything in terms of US dollars. Because he had to target specifically the NRIs specifically giving them their shot of ego.
All said and done, if I were on the seller side, I would absolutely appreciate the kind of science marketing and selling has become.