The other day someone expected me to have an iPhone. And three people expected me to live in East London. It irrationally irked me that people would think these things about me because a) they're not true and b) because it means that I'm getting my signals all wrong. Using the defence of the prejudiced I can say that I have 'East London-based, iPhone-using' friends (two), but increasingly I'm meeting increasingly uncool and sheep-like people who fit into the centre of that venn diagram.
If we go back to Hebdige and all that jazz, the brand choices we make are the markers we use to create our identity in Western capitalist societies (that experience economy bullshit is just a next generation way of doing the same thing). My days of non-branded goods only were over 7 years ago and now I'm a cold, hard consumer and I use my purchases to define me. It's sad but true.
When you think about it like that no wonder I'm upset that people associate me with something that I don't think is particularly cool. And when I get deeper into the pyschoanalysts couch I realise that it's not even that I don't think it's cool, it's just that I don't like to have the same things as everyone else. God, I'm really sad aren't I.
I'm a purchase contrarian. I'm pretty sure when the iPhone #1 came out I thought it was pretty cool, but now it is as ubiquitous as sin, so it bores me. When I was at school I used to hang out in Hoxton and think it was pretty cool, but now that look is the mainstream. My Chloe Paddington that I loved so much when I got it makes me sick now because it's so common (the reason I won't be buying the Alexa even though I LOVE it).
Which brings me to Moleskine. As a purchase contrarian I can no longer use one (although I'm tempted to buy the white one), would anyone like my last ruled one (it's Turner Media stamped - I've never actually paid for a Moleskine notebook)? Let me know, it's yours. I'm going to find a new notebook made from uber-sustainable bamboo.
I'm just rebelling against the increasing homogenity of our purchase decisions. It's hard when there's actually very little choice. I'm trying hard to be a little bit individual despite being a planner with statement glasses. AAAARGH.
In this day and age I'm really not happy about receiving messages like this (23 hours and 20 minutes after making a purchase):
"Regrettably we must inform you that the item that you ordered with us is no longer available. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and would explain that due to the sale there has been a very high demand for this particular item. Our website only updates once every 24 hours which means that some items that have sold out may still appear online."
Our website only updates every 24 hours?!? Bad Browns.
Reading about how high finance works has made me come over a little communist recently. Then I read these seemingly innocuous quotes of the day and got even more worked up. So apologies in advance if this post is a little ranty, I'm just trying to figure stuff out. Actually, feel free to skip it.
I get worked up quite a lot about London in general, about how for one of the world's glamour cities it is just becoming a homogenous mess where you still can't get a quiet drink after 1am, and a whole lot of other things beside (like this and this). Charlie and I were talking the other day about the brilliant independent and interesting businesses that do exist in London - new and old - and how we feel, a duty almost, to shop there to protect them from closure, so much pleasure do we take in their existance. Charlie was saying it would be nice to create some sort of pledge website, and I agree.
Which got me thinking about how the franchise/chain is one the biggest factors in the homogenous high street. It is the homogenous high street. If I never see another Pret, I'll be a happy girl. I love Leon, but it's slowly becoming too available. I liked the fact I could only get in Carnaby. Now there is another store within a 5 minute walk of that one. Imagine if Tayyabs or Ganapati became chain restaurants, as ubquitous as Pizza Express? Part of the charm is that you have to travel for them. Exclusivity doesn't have to be a luxury proposition.
Expansion/capitalism is the enemy of indivudality but I do understand the quest for more profits. I'm not advocating communism at all because that's not how I roll. But I do want to have an economic system that promotes independent businesses more, because they are what makes London vibrant and interesting and different. And one where it's beneficial to be successful but not ubiquitous.
I've been pretty annoyed with eBay recently, basically because their new pricing/fees structure means that it isn't really worthwhile to sell low-priced items anymore (basically, you have to give PayPal as a payment option and it takes a 20p flat fee + percentage for each transaction - not great if you're selling an item for £1). Which takes away part of the fun of using eBay. Buying other people's trash.
But I do agree with the principle of having a marketplace where you can resell your old stuff. So I'm a bit torn by this request from eBay: On one hand I don't really want to support them because I kind of hate them and begrudgingly use them (would love some more options on the auction front), and on the other I support the right as a consumer to resell my goods. Dear dilemma, what should I do?
I'm sorry that I've been very ranty (is that even a word?) over the last week or so, but hopefully this will be the last one. Everyone has been going mad over Tossed, the salad place, since it opened a couple of doors down from our office. There are a couple of things they do which I find offensive:
1. Charge 50p to heat up your wrap. 2. Charge you for swapping ingredients out of their house salads and wraps - they are made up on the spot not pre-prepared so it wouldn't be too difficult to swap a like-for-like.
For a brand that trades in the Innocent/Pret lovely food brand category, those are pretty unfriendly things to do. So even though the banana custard is really good, I may have to stop my patronage and stick with Pure California (less options, happy about swapping).
I found this mildly annoying. I was rating my friends short film (btw watch it) and I would actually like to hear more about the competition, but my only options are hear nothing or hear everything. Why can I not hear more about Virgin Media Shorts without being bombarded with crap from Virgin Media (which I can't even get) and Virgin Mobile (which I don't even want)? Surely the whole point of doing stuff like this is (or should be) to make people warm towards your brand? A soft-sell if you like. Not just a way to build a database for mailings about mobile offers.
And anyway, it's not like you couldn't advertise to the 'Shorts info only' people. I'm sure you're allowed to put adverts within emails that are about the thing they've signed up to.
I know I need to stop ranting, but brands need to stop being annoying first.
I was wondering if anyone has any good examples of companies that reward their customers for loyalty. There's a bunch of good stuff in terms of 'operational marketing' over on the Zeus Jones blog, but I was wondering if anyone did anything as simple as, 'you've been our customer for X years, here's £2 off your monthly bill to say thank you'?
Maybe little things like this would avoid the situation I have with Sky, where I've been their customer for over 5 years, spending at least £600 a year, but I feel a burning resentment that I am their customer and am waiting for the day when I can move to a Virgin-enabled area. I actually think that will be one of the main criteria I have when picking out my house (along with being cat-friendly).
The mobile companies used to use your data to suggest the call package which would be most suited to the calls you made, even if meant downgrading, but most companies never take the initiative to save their customers money even though it would mean their customers are less likely to switch. Sky could have easily written to tell me that because I never watch any of the kids channels, do I want to remove the package and save money. Immediate warm fuzzy feeling towards the brand instead of the cold, burning anger that I usually harbour.
It seems that it's only when you call to cancel that brands suddenly realise the value of your loyalty. It's part of the dance to pretend you're going to leave your mobile provider on renewal in order to wrangle a better upgrade deal. I bet if I called Sky to cancel they'd offer me a sweetner to stay - free HD perhaps? It's a shame that brands focus their energy on salvaging relationships rather than cultivating them.
In fact, I read in Campaign the other day that Setanta are going to offer a £3.33 package (on satellite) while there's no premiership action over the summer, but I haven't heard of this from them. I'm probably going to have to call and cancel for them to let me know about it.
Anyway loyal customers are the most profitable, but that doesn't mean they should be treated like mugs. Basically, as a brand you should have to work for my loyalty.
It annoys me how much contempt Apple appear to show to their customers. It annoys me more that people keep lapping it up (myself included). Rant aside, it's interesting that a company can fly in the face of what is accepted good practice (good customer service, etc) and still keep racking up the profits (remember that Wired article?). Will their behaviour ever bite them on the bum?
One part truth, two parts mixer is a digital notebook for Priyanka/@pristyles. Yes, you've reached another planner's blog - but it's mainly full of random thoughts and pretty pictures.
If you're reading, hello - it's nice to meet you.