Monthly Archives: December, 2012

Bags and fetish. A little bit more about our irrationalism

I like bags. Really. I’m kind of indifferent to clothes, but bags…Sometimes bags are pieces of art.

Модные сумки на осень зиму 2012 2013

Роскошные клатчи осень зима 2012 2013

If you thing that a bag is only about a bag, you are seriously mistaken. Bag is a status; bag is a part of consumer’s personality. The most fashionable people do know that you may wear and combine any kinds of clothes, but expensive and beautiful bags and shoes really matter. Why do people buy bags which price is 3-fold higher than their month salary? Let’s sort things out.

Why the costliness is so important? Why high price equal high quality in the brains of customers. One of the most exciting studies, conducted by Baba Shiv, Hilke Plassamann, John O’Doherty and Antonio Rangel, was indented to discover how our brain responds to the factor of the price. Participants were asked to evaluate ‘different’ wines priced from 5 dollars to 90 dollars, while their brain activity was registered. When the brain activity from different price levels was compared, it was found that the activation of the media orbitofrontal cortex was higher when the wine was more expensive. The most interesting thing about this experiment is that it was the same wine that subjects tasted (An interview with Baba Shiv, Kardes et al., 2011).

At the lecture we discussed famous Pepsi paradox. Briefly, when brand information is introduced people tend to prefer Coke over Pepsi, although Pepsi is slightly sweeter and in blind test preferences divided into 50\50. So brand occurs to be more important in terms of the decision-making process rather than particular qualities of a product…Even when we are not aware of its effect on our behavior.

Hence brand of the product and its price are crucial for the perceived value of a product, our strong loyalty and attachment to the objects we buy, even though we do not actually need them and\or the price is inadequately high. There is another important side of the fetishism.

I was actually very surprised when I found out that Karl Marx in his famous economical work ‘Capital. Vol. 1’ explains his idea of commodity fetishism. The important point is that Marx’s interpretation of the term ‘fetishism’ is wider that it’s commonly known. Marx tells us that we make a fetish of the commodity by attributing characteristics of its own. That is to say, we take it as an independent and self-sufficient object. Marx emphasizes the ‘as if’ moment. It consists in the idea that when we consume we behave as if we do not know what we know, for example that it might not be the best choice or that this product is harmful for our health and\or for the environment etc (Marx, 1976).

Back to our bags, most purchasers of the Birkin bag act as they don’t know that a baby crocodile was killed just to make this fancy bag, not for survival. We actually all aware of the sweatshop conditions in which many things in a fashion market are produced, but we fell no regret while buying and wearing them.

So, would you change your opinion about one of those nice luxury bags you put an eye on?
If you are not too much environmentally-caring, the answer is obvious for me. =)


Marx, K. (1976). Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin.

Kardes F., Cline T., Cronley M. (2011). Consumer behavior: Science and Practice. International edition: South-Western, Cengage Learning

This is the last blog… Merry Christmas!


Analysing the brand – Kinder surprise!

Oh yes… Kinder Surprise – one of the main attributes of 90-s  generation, in my opinion. Actually recently I recalled my childhood and understood that a considerable part of my memory is occupied with my favourite sweets and related nice stuff I enjoyed. The impact of brands we were exposed in our childhood is huge and continues influencing our decisions ever when we are adults…

This product for introduced in Germany in 1974 and then became very popular not only in Germany, but all over the world. According to, ‘Since its launch, nearly 30 billion eggs have been sold all over the world with more than 8,000 different surprises!’.

The idea of a chocolate egg with a capsule and a toy inside it is so genius and simple at the same time. From my point of view, it’s not very obvious, but the main reason of Kinder Surprise’s success consists in the shape of this product. Of course, the first assumption: this particular form tells us that the item is not empty, there is something inside it, because it is associated with a real bird egg (or other types of eggs). The next idea is at the more philosophical level: in most cultures an egg is considered to be the symbol of life cycle, fertility, rebirth, nature and our planet.

But let’s turn back to our down-to-earth  issues. I’m going to discuss Kinder Surprise using the tool which is broadly-know within marketers –  Customer-Based Brand Equity Pyramid (Keller, 1993).

The first step is identification who you are as a brand. The salience for Kinder is a combination of fun & real jam. The next step performed in blocks ‘performance’ and ‘imagery’ is describing what you are, what are your meanings.  For Kinder performance consists in several characteristics:  high quality milk chocolate (black on the surface & white inside), small toys that ‘are designed and developed with safety in mind, rigorously observing international regulations as well as extra safety criteria voluntarily adopted by the Ferrero Group’, suitable as a present both on a special occasions or without any occasion. Imagery for Kinder may be the following: friendly, funny, ‘mini Christmas’ on an ordinary day, may be perceived as a reward. The third step is answering a question ‘what are you?’. This question is covered by blocks ‘judgements” and ‘feelings’. With regard to Kidder Surprise judgements might be hight quality and credibility. In terms of feelings, we may say that Kinder is all about joy, warmth and…surprise. The final stage is to identify ‘resonance’ block – specific relationships being built between consumers and the brand. Concerning Kinder Surprise, these relationships are very firm and may be specified with such characteristics as loyalty, attachment, community and engagement. This is a top of the pyramid so every aspect of a particular brand finally must work on this top, because establishing strong relations with a brand in the most important aim of all marketing activities around a brand!

What about you? Are you still attached to Kinder eggs?

Keller, K.L. (1993). Conceptualising, measuring and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing. 57(1), 1-22 p.