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Several studies have shown that, when blindfolded, people can not distinguish one brand of beer from another. (1) And then there's the research that showed most Dutch restaurants served tapwater instead of mineralwater (sorry, login required, elsewhere it's just referenced). I'm sure it happens in other countries as well, btw. And then there's the principle that a basic khaki t-shirt costs about e. 5,- while the same t-shirt with a Calvin Klein logo on it costs e. 50,-. Printing is not that expensive.


So how much do you think you're fooled by branding?



(1) I expect some disagreement on this, so please check:

Milner,G (1979): Light Alcohol and Standard Beers: Controlled Taste Discrimination Study. Med J Aust 2:383. 10.Cox,WM & Klinger,E (1983): Discriminability of Regular, Light, and Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Near Beer. J Stud Alc 44:494-498.

McLaughlin,K (1988): An Investigation of the Ability of Young Male and Female Social Drinkers to Discriminate Between Regular, Calorie Reduced and Low Alcohol Beer. Br J Addict 83:183-187.

Rimm,D et al (1981): The Effect of Alcohol and the Expectancy of Alcohol on Snake Fear. Addict Behav 6:47-51. (why didn't I come up with that when I graduated?)

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I've been in Marketing for the past 5 years - it's not so much about fooling the consumer as it is determining what value the customer perceives he is paying for/what the customer will ultimately pay. In business, the name of the game is to make money...period. Rarely will you find someone who works just to occupy his time.


So, as long as people are willing to pay extra for that special brandname / feature / what have you....businesses are always willing to take your money. Vanity is not cheap (neither is stupidity).

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Personaly I'd rather buy quality clothes and shoes sold under brands that are not well-known to the public. When I buy a pair of shoes, I expect it to last a long time. So, I have nothing against paying 300€ for shoes that will actually last 5 to 10 years, rather than buying Kenzo or Hugo Boss shoes at the same price - and sometimes even at an lower price. I don't care about the brand, genrally. It's more about quality in general.


Marketing becomes a problem when talking about two items that share the same characteristics, as Goo said. There's no difference between a Boss T-shirt and a lambda T-shirt, but I think most of the people know it already, and would buy the Boss T-shirt if they can afford for it. And err, sometimes even if they can't afford for it, which is another problem.


The only difference between our T-shirts is that one is just a piece of cloth, while the other is a distinctive mark. Marketing is mostly based upon the principle of the Maslow pyramid, a sociologist and economist who categorised human needs in 4+1 degrees, starting from physiological needs like eating and drinking, to hopes and dreams of social recognition. Now, the act of buying a lambda T-shirt will fulfill the first kind of need, while buying a Boss T-shirt will fulfill the 2nd.


TV adds don't tell you how good is a product, most of the time, but how good a person you will become if you buy it. Buy Hugo Boss clothes today, and you're likely to find a beautiful naked woman in your bed tomorrow morning. (I stopped buying HB clothes because I soon found out that it didn't work well, God knows why.)


That's why I don't feel "fooled" by marketing. I feel like our society "fools" many people every day, letting them think that everything will get better if they spend money.

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RXS: you're right. It's perceived value, not actual value. And from a business point of view that indeed makes sense. But from a consumer's point of view it doesn't. You're basically being lied too.


Genesis: yes, that is true. But shouldn't the social needs be determined by things like taste, the aesthetic value of the product, instead of the values artificially attached to a certain brand name?


And thanks for the HB tip, btw. If you ever find out which brand DOES make beautiful nakes women suddenly appear in your bed, please let me know. (Though I fear it will be something like 'New prozac with LSD!' or something...).

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I'm not a sucker for branding. More like just the opposite. For the most part, I drink Busch light, at about half the cost of Bud Light. If I feel like spending a lot on beer, I go for something with a real, distinctive flavor i.e. Sam Adams, Heineken, Red Stripe. As for clothing, I buy whatever is on sale at Target. Go much cheaper than that, and the fit sucks and the fabric is crap and they don't last. My idiot brother-in-law, though, refuses to wear anything that doesn't say "tommy hilfiger" on it. This is a grown man, with a wife and kids. He hates it when i ask him why he pays TH for the privilege of doing their advertising for them. Ah well...

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My wife used to work at Tommy Hilfiger Corporate. Their stuff is crap. She had a clothing allowence which basically allowed her to by one of everything. She gave the clothes to her sister. tongue.gif


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