Object “Specialness” (11-12-21)

Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at Wharton, studied how objects become special and wrote a related paper with Jacqueline Rifkin (“How Nonconsumption Can Turn Ordinary Items Into Perceived Treasures”).  When discussing this paper Berger reports on “a specialness spiral. You take an ordinary item and forgo using it once. Because of that, you start to see it as a little more special. . . . The next opportunity has to be even better, which means that it’s less likely to be used, so it becomes even more special. It’s this ratcheting upward of a specialness spiral where an item that started out very ordinary, through repeated lack of use eventually becomes quite special and seen more as a treasure. . . .we don’t mean to suggest that all clutter is driven by this. . . . Marketers may want to consider a number of ways of dealing with this. Maybe it’s associating offerings with a specific usage occasion. . . . brands could consider encouraging consumers to use their offerings as soon as possible after purchase. . . . even if they’re nonperishable.”

“Curbing Clutter:  Why Do We Hold On to Things We Never Use?” 2021.  Knowledge @ Wharton, https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/curbing-clutter-why-do-we-ke...