Why I don't matter, but my wallet does
Tell you what. I guard my wallet more vehemently than I care for myself. The reason's simple. Without it, I don't exist. My wallet's got my credit cards, my driver's license, my PAN card, my club cards and a few business cards. Every time I am asked to prove I am me, I need the cards in my wallet. There are many a nincompoops under the sun, warming chairs in the laziest of departments, who order me to come up with some identification. So I can apply for some hair-brained government scheme. My cards save the day.
I've no idea if my wallet's importance over me has taken a toll on my esteem. But I know its got me paranoid about losing my wallet some day and then being erased off the face of this planet. Like it happens in movies.
I guess no one really cares about the real me. Its the cards in my wallet that matter. Its the same with brands too. No one really cares about the product anymore. Its about the brand. Despite the fact that the cola in two bottles named differently are the same, no one really cares. Its the name on the bottle. The name on the wrapper. The name on the box. That's what matters. The names (read, brands) are what drive judgements. Not the product within.
Just like, its what's on the card that dictates my existence. Without it, I am a nobody. I don't exist
Depressing. Funny too. :)
But generally, most of the people tend to forget this and they realise the value of their wallets only when it is lost.
So, the best bet can be to keep a copy of the ID card, bank cards, etc. incase such a calamity happens.
I think you're spot on with the idea that drinking Coca-Cola instead of the generic soda, or wearing Nike clothes instead of brandless labels, can indicate a preference for the LABEL of the product. It is, in a sense, conspicuous consumption. If I wear Nike shoes, the Nike logo makes a statement about my socio-economic status, and that, rather than the shoes themselves, is what is part of my identity.
But I feel like that is also oversimplifying preference. I don't dish out $60 on shoes just for that symbol. I pay that much because I believe that Nike shoes will offer me enough comfort, enough support, enough product longevity, and enough of whatever other utility that it is worth paying more for them. The name "Nike" indicates not only my ability to afford the shoe but also what I believe about the product's quality. Maybe the cheaper generic shoe really is the same as the Nike one, but when I make my decision to buy Nike, I don't know that. I just know what I believe to be true, and that is that Nike offers more bang for my buck.
I am sure that if a rational consumer has the knowledge that if two products are identical, then he will buy the cheaper one, regardless of its name.
Also, the choice to buy the TYPE of product itself should matter (and forgive me if this is off the point). Whether I buy a Coke or a Pepsi, I must first decide to buy a cola. In other words, I am a cola consumer before I am a Coke or Pepsi consumer. Shouldn't that account for something in the name v. product issue?
So the product does matter, and the name simply It's just like how if you didn't exist, your wallet wouldn't either.
(Then again, you are a professor and I am only an Economics student. I make my argument, fully aware that I could be wrong. But I still make it for the sake of intellectual discourse.)
Thank you for your response, appreciate it....
Of course products matter. Labels get made because of products within. Should the product fail, the label counts for nothing, in fact, it wouldn't turn a 'label' in the first place...
And yes, its a product decision first before its a brand decision...
But what if it were label vs. label? Why do I pick one over the other? The products within are exactly the same. Aren't there consumers who still go for the costlier label? Because its esteem value's that much greater.
Again, I agree labels make it easy for me to purchase. Because its safer. Decision making is simpler. I hold no grudges against labels. In fact I admire them for their marketing prowess. They turn consumers, irrational. Fascinating.
Dan Ariely demonstrates irrationality in the video listed below -