I think that we’ve travelled an interesting path when it comes to products and consumption.
In the early industrial era, the age of invention, companies produced things based on new inventions that everyone wanted. Then, the markets got crowded so we had to invent modern marketing to establish the differences between very similar products, and essentially trick people into buying something. Today, I think it’s a sense of purpose, meaning and connection that people are buying.
Uptal Dholakia is saying much the same thing in his article on how great brands connect to their customers like religions. Savvy marketers use the same principles to offer three benefits the same as religions: Set of core values and beliefs; Symbols and rituals; relationships with people in a community.
To me, real connection is quite sophisticated and not easy to replicate. That’s why marketing today is so ingrained in the purpose of the company and the leader, not just the product or service. Think Southwest Airlines, Apple, Zappos…