Freudian Marketing

By Christopher Zoukis 

When marketing and selling luxury products to affluent customers the price of the product or service is relative. On the surface, this statement appears heretical. But a deeper exploration of the premise reveals it to be true. Granting for the moment that the premise is true and the price of the product is relative, to what is it relative?

Feeling. For what is being marketed and sold is not a “thing” or service per se. Rather, what is being offered to the customer is perceived image and the “feeling” it furnishes the buyer.  Image courtesy

Marketing guru Seth Godin maintains that when a company sells a product, they are “explicitly” selling a thing, which is undoubtedly a product. But says Godin, what the company is selling “implicitly” is a feeling. 

Godin offers the example of Starbucks, which literally is selling coffee to customers. That is a fact. Really, though, what Starbucks is offering is the feeling of associating with other like-minded people. Most people drink coffee. When they feel like they need a cup, Starbucks hopes they will remember the “oooh Starbucks” feeling. That is what Starbucks is selling – a feeling.

Tiffany & Company sells unique jewelry, which is expensive and luxurious. But what Tiffany really sells is little blue boxes. Of course, the boxes contain jewelry. But it is the little blue box that imparts the feeling. That feeling is why affluent people continue to shop at Tiffany & Company. Because the little blue box gives both the buyer and the recipient of the blue box a nice feeling.

Abercrombie & Fitch sell luxury clothing and accessories. It is a well-known, deluxe brand. Lots of people buy it. What Abercrombie & Fitch really sell is a feeling. The feeling of shopping in a store that has a certain smell and loudness. The sounds in the store are bright and intense, the smell carries the pungency of opulence. One’s senses are engaged, which produces a feeling. The feeling is subliminal, which means it carries over to wearing the clothing when walking down the street. So what Abercrombie & Fitch are really selling is a feeling that can be purchased and carried out of the store.

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