Branding is the opposite of signaling for anybody with a bit of money, or somebody who has been educated in an environnent filled with art and science.
In my view, status symbols and signals exist at each wealth tier, i.e. from lower class, middle class and the bourgeoisie, to the upper extreme of billionaires.
Brand name and brand recognition persists not only in vertical hierarchy but also in horizontal sub cultures within the same wealth class (e.g. Supreme which has its roots in SB culture).
This is still value signaling for both. It's just that when 20 generations lived in castles, showing off money is considered bad taste and uneducated.
In fact, a typical signal is having expensive things, but not caring that you have them. Some do that by not showing them off. Others displays that by showing them off, but treating it like it is disposable.
Old money is wealth that has been sustained through several generations - Traditional aristocracy, and families who own classically successful businesses going back hundreds of years those would be the sort of people who one would describe as old money.
The wealth signalling these families and people display are items that tend to be less "showy" or overt. The perception of a quality or well made item is more important than the brand name behind it.
New money is wealth that has accumulated within a generation or two from families who are not traditionally wealthy - Tech Millionaires, Arabian Oil Barons, Russian Oligarchs and the like would all come under this heading.
The wealth signalling by New Money tends to be more overt than with old money - there can be the perception that the items they purchase and flaunt around are to signal that indeed they have money and are willing to spend it. one could even argue it's as if to prove a point
a classic exploration on the conflict of Old Money vs New Money is in the novel The Great Gatsby.
see also the term Nouveau Riche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nouveau_riche
I really just straight up don't trust people who value these and I also don't feel like making a human connection to them either. If I see someone in a bespoke suit and wearing it properly, I nod my head.
It feels almost like seeing a good beard. You wouldn't buy a Gucci beard to be put on like a fake mustache. You'd have to groom it and take care of it on your own for months. Apologies for the odd comparison but it's needed to add a deeper contrast.
"Luxury" goods shouldn't be a sign of status as they're often toxic. Buy what you think actually does the job and solves the problem.
It's just signalling to your crowd.
If I can find clothing that functions just as well as logo'd versions, but for less money, then that makes sense.
With cars, gaming consoles, etc., there's a valid reason to want to spend more money if you're looking for function. PlayStation has games that you can't find on other consoles, or maybe you just like the controller better.
The car I drive is more expensive than I need, but I didn't spend the money to signal anything to anyone. I bought it because it has features the alternative doesn't.
If those expensive sneakers do their job better, then great. But if you're dropping $500 on a limited edition, just for the design, then it's a different calculation. (I am NOT saying it's stupid to do this, just differentiating it from buying features vs. design)
Most people who buy expensive clothing are actually doing it as a hobby, esp those that are being talked about in the article - people who are heavily invested in influences and celebrity culture, they find luxury to be fun and it allows them to hang out in circles of people with similar interests. So it does fulfill functions: aesthetic, social, entertainment etc.
How do we know that you aren't signaling you want that brand? You are just some dude in a Ford, who for all we know is signaling you want a Ford over a Chevy
Funny enough, it is a Ford, though I’ve also owned Chevys in the past.
You don't provide enough details here, but there's a good chance you aren't talking about the feature differences between a 1986 Toyota Tercel and a 2019 Camry. You are probably talking about the difference between your 40,000 or 50,000 (or more) dollar car and a typical 30,000 dollar car. If that's the case, it's probably worth pointing out while you criticize T-Shirt buyers, that you got horribly rooked. Rooked bad. Like, you're just a fat whale to the auto industry.
Once upon a time the costumes of head of state, judges, generals and priests required all kinds of peacock level signalling.
The illiterate masses needed the signals. Especially where authority figures were concerned.
Today we are at a point were a CEO can walk into a meeting in shorts and people have the capacity to understand who has more decision making power.
Are General's and Judges going to stop wearing their costumes? In large parts of the west much of it has disappeared. Not yet fully because when your job is to get people to do stuff that has nothing to do with their own needs distractions work.
As more and more people get in touch with their own needs the power of distraction and manipulative signals will reduce. We are seeing this push back happening all over the place.
In the past both the education system and professional hierarchies at work did a fantastic job of disconnecting people from their own needs to produce obedience.
Today thanks to hyper-connection of the internet, the hierarchies are bypassed, and people are getting slapped in the face, a hundred ways, reminding them to think about their own needs.
This is a new thing. It goes wrong a lot and produces bad outcomes but people are learning. And the learning is very different from the past. Because it comes through a network not from a hierarchy.
I'm all for controlling our inner consumerism but I often find tremendous lack of self-awareness in the discourse.
Nobody says MTG fans are "not clever" or shallow or manipulated by the system because they have an expensive hobby.
Tourism, cars, good houses, good furniture, art, videogames, eating out, going to concerts, collecting vinyls, having pets - are all absolutely unnecessary for humans and can be considered as luxury from point of view of those who cannot afford these things.
People buy and do stuff because they like it and can afford it and that's it. You're not more enlightened or clever for not doing one unnecessary thing but doing some other.
I don't ever eat in restaurants/cafes and don't have a car. I'm not smarter than majority of Americans, I'm just really shy and don't mind using public transport, so these things are inefficient for me, but they might be efficient in providing some entertainment, comfort, novelty experience, social signalling for those with different preferences.
I don't read too much into changing clothing styles. Suits and ties were starting to be de-emphasized in day-to-day business quite a while before social media was a thing. (Casual Fridays started in the early 90s or so.) And the sort of inverse snobbery hoodie dress thing is mostly limited to some tech circles.
For that matter, there are still a lot of suits and ties worn in business meetings even if they're not near-universal dress any longer.
>The illiterate masses needed the signals. Especially where authority figures were concerned.
It's not that we don't need the signals anymore. We do. But the signals have been debased. Anyone can get any costume. So the signal doesn't signal anything anymore and it's not worth bothering.
Last time I was in court in court the judge was wearing just a casual floral top, summer skirt and flats, it was a small civil case, and no one minded at all. It was still clear that she was in charge.
But not nearly as silly as the powdered wigs I think are still in use in Britain and other parts Europe which seem downright ludicrous.
Cynical observation. Not every human action is automatically designed to impress upon others.
> If you get a brandless tshirt, you are also signaling that you are too smart to buy the luxury brand.
As a matter of fact I buy "brandless" shirts -- actually I own about four black woolen shirts from Costco. It is simply a fact of the matter that a) I am smart enough not to fall for luxury brand marketting, and b) I prefer not to have to choose which 'design' of shirt to wear every day.
A fact is just so; it does not need to be signalled. I perfectly understand that some people value fashion more in line with their values. To each their own.
That is not what the word signalling means.
Signalling is a means of communication. Singalling is much more efficient in many contexts than other communications methods like straight up talking and describing one's life.
Communication has many reasons for it, only one of which (quite minor for many people) is "impressing upon others". Saying signalling is done for "impressing upon others" is a gross simplification of this phenomenon and is just inaccurate.
And yes, in some circles ostentatious signaling will be counterproductive, but that's the exception rather than the rule.
I had a South Korean physics colleague whose wife bought him some preposterously expensive Louis Vuitton organizer (basically a $2000 leather folder) when he got his Ph.D. He looked ... out of place with it around the physics department, where most of the people just dressed like nerds, or had tweed sports coats or whatever, but you could tell it was a big deal to both of them.
It's interesting the success/taste/status signals used by different social groups. Sales guys and lawyers often use shoes and watches for such things; a bit more subtle than a bag with branding logo all over, but serves the same purpose.
Luxury brands in every aspect of life dominate in Asia. Indie/Hipster/Craft cultures are also coming up but they are not viewed as a threat.
It turns out that money can’t buy you taste.
Basically, fake the til you make it and dress for the part and whatnot.
However, each position and manager are different, so there are very few hard and fast rules. What works great for one person may have the opposite effect on another. Honestly, I don't care too much about my physical appearance (I guess that's signaling too), so I've been looking into other nonverbal ways to communicate since I hate trying to adapt to the latest fashion (it's exhausting, and my time is better spent building stuff).
Everything largely depends on a particular circle, industry, level of income.
Arab Sheikhs don't party with CEOs from Valley, Russian oligarchs or Hollywood producers. I believe how you're expected to dress for 300k position in Facebook would differ from the expected look for 300k position on Wall Street.
In business, an expensive watch signals to others that you’re good at what you do. Not necessarily that you’re a flashy asshole, although for some that can be the case too!
Also, notice how many cars have advertising for the dealership on them as stickers or license plate surrounds. Why do people leave that junk on their cars?
A long time ago I realized that dressing without showing brand logos was much, much classier. E.g. shop at J. Crew or Uniqlo (no logos on any shirts) and not Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger (damn polo player/flag on every single shirt). There are plenty of brands/pieces without logos.
It baffles me, though, why athletic gear isn't the same. Everyone winds up sporting their allegience to Nike or Adidas or Puma or Under Armour or Reebok or Lululemon or whatever it is. I'm unaware of any major athletic brand, where I can buy a full range of workout gear (tees, shorts, sneakers) that doesn't advertise itself.
I don't get it. Why isn't there a J. Crew or Uniqlo of workout gear?
(Even brands that sell mostly unbranded clothing seem to compulsively slap some kind of "signature" on their workout gear specifically, e.g. Gap attaches it's own special Gap-athletic logo, and Old Navy has a kind of signature stripe on everything.)
As for unbranded workout clothes, you can always try a military surplus store. Not all of the clothes there are camo style.
- Athletic activities are social and visible, especially in professional sports.
- It’s technically difficult to start an athletic company without access to significant IP in producing advanced athletic gear - both from engineering as well as manufacturing aspects.
It’s not too difficult to start a T-Shirt company. It’s monumentally difficult to develop your own Gore-Tex or Dri-Fit, Flyknit fabric, construct clothing or shoes from it and manufacture it at scale.
1. You might not have the IP to make high quality athletic clothing because maybe it is difficult to find the right combination of materials.
2. Fabric companies probably don’t want to sell small quantities of fabrics produced in large volumes.
3. Some fabrics may be limited to specific companies by contracts.
I also claim manufacturing at scale is not necessary to start a company making athletic clothing.
I think it probably is possible to find a niche as a small company selling (expensive) athletic clothing. I think it’s also possible that the fabrics used by mainstream athletics companies are not necessarily the best around as products made from these fabrics typically need to be made in large volumes reasonably cheaply and I would expect newer better/experimental fabrics to be neither available in very large quantities nor reasonably cheap.
I would certainly expect such a company to exist even though I don’t know of one.
As someone who spends 99% of his life in Adidas "athleisure" clothing, that's sorta part of the point for me. It just feels nice associating myself with their brand for some reason, no idea why. I guess it's like how some people associate themselves with their town, football team, or text editor, perhaps.
I do have a dealer license plate surround for a dealer that's 3+ hours away; we got the car 2nd hand. It's entirely because I don't care enough to change it, as it would cost me money and time.
There's probably the opposite of signalling going on somehow here... where I'd rather people who think that makes me tacky stay away from me because I think they're shallow. ;)
they're free whereas new ones cost 10 bucks.
Prominent Logo: https://www.gucci.com/us/en/pr/men/mens-shoes/mens-sneakers/...
No logo on outside: https://www.gucci.com/us/en/pr/men/mens-shoes/mens-moccasins...
Easily recognizable: https://us.burberry.com/check-stretch-cotton-shirt-p80048271
But then again there are some fun Hearst quotes about being able to spin anything he wanted so who knows.
If I'm selling a new type of toothbrush, or a software that helps teachers grade homework with AI, I can make some ads, see how close they get to the needed ROI and tweak it. I can test marketing different aspects or selling points of the product and getting results iteratively.
If I'm selling a new luxury handbag, I will never, ever sell it at a reasonable ROI from just a set of ads. You have to build the whole eco system at once (kind of a chicken and egg problem). People have to see influencers using it, celebrities having them, the right kind of feeling in the ads, the right news articles, being sold in the right stores, etc. My first marketing job was at a start-up denim brand trying to become big and I observed and researched a lot there about how it works.
What would you say the state of analytics is on that side of things? Is attribution sufficiently advanced to get some read on the impact of various influences, celeb and PR hits, product placement, etc?
Even as a senior marketer confident in my skills, so much of the luxury space seems very much like an exercise of needing to put all your eggs in the one basket of a big launch. None of the steady burn of some more performance-driven plays with the usual iteration on ads and funnel metrics and such.
I come from the performance side, but currently work with a bunch of CPG clients with products that run the gamut between commodity to luxury.
I specifically work on creating analytics and attribution frameworks, because these companies are fine with fuzzy hand-wavy "lift studies" for tv commercials and stupid in store display stunts. But they hold a double standard and anything digital has to be concretely measured to defend its budget.
It's actually pretty easy to create robust analytics and attribution in the space. But it's mainly a process thing, to be able to sprinkle around enough unique traits or identifiers along the way to measure at an aggregate level what the impact was. It tends to rarely be done though, due to a lack of that level of operational discipline for brand marketers and agencies, or due to the desire to deliberately sabatage the numbers because they don't paint a particularly flattering picture. So more often than not you end up with a botched execution on the small details that were required for proper attribution, then the resulting numbers being full of enough holes to spin the data however is convenient. Or someone slapping on some poorly integrated software that spits out a number that's taken as the holy grail, "cuz AI said so".
... which leads to a terrible cycle of distrust in analytics and attribution on the brand side, leading to fewer initiatives that prioritize it.
What sort of spend levels and data volumes do you typically need to see for the lift studies you do with TV and CTV? Do you typically isolate to specific markets for that?
For CPG clients, it's more of a pain. Those usually involve really complex interagency relationships, with discontinuity in both processes and data access. And in a lot of cases, they may have access to a retail partners POS or loyalty data, but can't share it directly with us as a third party agency, and there's a game of telephone where we have to coach them on what to ask for and provide to us (in whatever form they're allowed), while being blind to the data and data/system structures. So a lot gets lost in translation, with the spend level having to be large enough to compensate for however dysfunction that process is for that program and client.
That said, I'm lucky enough to be a passive observe to that most of the time. Another manager under my boss is responsible for those more traditional lift studies. I have an unusual background in that I've done a lot of process development work, web analytics, and data engineering/management. So I'm only brought into those projects when we have more technically sophisticated needs.
Grading fill in the blank arithmetic exercises seems like a perfect piece of Augmented Intelligence. No gibberish problems until you get to "show your work", and even there, there are options if the business model is there. If the program is able to mark answers as "illegible", the grader can review before confirming. Make take-home grading something that can be done before the children go home for the day.
> ... Ms. Oluwole said: “We no longer get information from external sources. We can’t see what kind of car someone bought, because we don’t work with that data provider anymore.”
1.) Yep. My comments the other day were right in how far Facebook goes when they can. (Yes, there is more juicy stuff there.)
2.) While I view cookie banners as a sign that a number of companies really really don't "get" GDPR it seems it is already slowly changing behaviour behind the scenes.
Consumerism is a plague, and it's the #1 reason why it's impossible to talk about the environment. It's the elephant in the room.
That article highlight the type of person I despise with passion, because it represents the vanity of humanity. Granted, it's a hobby like any other, but to me it's the most ugly part of income inequality, for what luxury represents as a whole.
It's just my opinion like any other, you can disagree with it, but to me consumerism has become a political problem because it diverts our attention while making sure we don't think in terms of political responsibility.
People do things because it makes them feel good. Talking about global warming doesn't make people feel good. And it's not a political issue, it's a social one, yet we've dumped it into the realm of politics because we don't want to be responsible for it. At least now we can say "party X is at fault because they didn't support legislation Y".
To truly fix a problem like global warming, we need to fix the social aspect of it. Find a way to play off people's self interest instead of making it a partisan issue. Only suggest policy changes as it relates to molding social perspective. We need to find a way for people to selfishly protect the environment, not force people to give up things they like to help someone else...
There are simple living communities, but I doubt they'll reach mainstream success. Nonetheless, I think those communities success because there's a way to communicate with others in the community. If you want to help, find a way to make it "cool" to save the environment, and make a way to display that publicly as a status symbol.
People are self interested, and to make significant progress generally, you need to play off that.
But your argument here is a mess - you despise people with passion because of their consumer choices... and you're mixing up consumerism, environment, politics and income inequality into something completely incoherent.
The picture isn't clear, there isn't a single issue that makes the world as it is today purely by itself. So I would blame consumerism, together with everything else you listed - and I would strongly believe that you need to put the blame on every single one of these things at the same time.
I'm frustrated that so much human energy and time is allocated to appeasing the fleeting insecurities of the hyperwealthy. Not just allocated to it, devoted to it.
Meanwhile, there's very critical work to be done that isn't allocated shit on any meaningful scale.
We as humans only have so much time in our days. The luxury goods sector, to me, is a wasteful allocation of energy. And I know people on the other side of the pyramid scheme busting their asses to take care of kids and pay the rent at the same time.
It highly irritates me that this is where their hard work is aimed. At the top of society,the owner class is focused on fricking Prada? That really gets my goat.
The ability for people to excessively obsess over logos and funnel money at them is enabled by the excessive exploitation of working people.