Brand as a status symbol

What is status? According to Wikipedia it is the honor or prestige attached to one’s position in society. (one’s social position) In consumer societies status can be achieved by owning certain brands. For instance, if you drive a Ferrari, you are considered as a higher status person than an owner of a Sebring because buying goods that others can’t afford has long been an ultimate status symbol. While this is still true, other forms of status are emerging. For example, suddenly you might get more social acceptance by driving a Toyota Prius, because caring about the environment is “in”. Who would have thought? Or instead of going to a three-star Michelin restaurant, you might prefer to show off your cooking skills at home and get more praise. After all everybody can cook but being a “chef” is a status skill.

There are many new ways to claim status and brands can greatly benefit from these new status symbols. The key is to offer a pleasant experience to your customers and then empower them with means to tell their stories. That story itself becomes the status symbol. Here is an example: In Canada, there is an organization called “the Chef Alliance.” You can ask them to send a professional chef to you home to prepare a romantic dinner, which is such a nice experience. Not only you can enjoy a sophisticated meal but also you acquire a “status story” to tell. The Alliance facilitates your job by giving you some gifts as the Menu du Jour, the recipes and some kitchen stuff. How does your brand benefit from this? Well, can’t you see I am promoting the Alliance for free?

Tip of the day: The notion of status moves with the culture. What might be considered as a status symbol might be less relevant in a couple of years. Study cultural trends and always make sure that your brand allows customers to tell a “status story.”

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