Trendwatching.com has an interesting article on the importance of integrating “status skills” into your offerings.
No matter what you market, people will consume your offering based on how the product or service makes them feel about themselves in the presence of that product or service. The authors of the article refer to this as “providing your customers and clients with status” – perhaps a little too consumer-focused, but true for all industry segments nonetheless. As the authors rightfully point out: “there is little that consumers do that isn’t consciously or subconsciously influenced by a desire for recognition from family, friends, and any fellow consumers they come into contact with.”
In consumer goods, providing status may be conveyed through luxury, smart-buying, or eco-friendly symbols – symbols that will often be based on “too expensive,” “too scarce,” “too inaccessible,” or other physical and experience based status symbols that will impress others. In the B2B space, status symbols could be conveyed through smart-buying, well negotiated, achieving results – symbols that are often based on the characteristics that make for a model employee in a particular business culture, and which would likely result in career advancement or increased reputation amongst peers.
According to the authors, consumers increasingly value creativity over passive consumption – a trend that originated in the online world – where your fighting skills may not be what is most valued anymore, but perhaps the originality of your avatar, the number of friends in your tribe, or the uniqueness of your home page. They call it “status skills,” and define it as follows: “In economies that increasingly depend on (and thus value) creative thinking and acting, well-known status symbols tied to owning and consuming goods and services will find worthy competition from ‘STATUS SKILLS’: those skills that consumers are mastering to make the most of those same goods and services, bringing them status by being good at something, and the story telling that comes with it.”
Several brands are already incorporating “status skills” into their customer interactions – including
Craft, Switch, BMW, Volkswagen, Nikon, Home Depot, Lego, and many other companies which are described in the article. Another example recently covered is the open source beer, which combines a new business model with the belief that many people will want to brew their own beer and improve their reputation as beer connoisseurs through the widespread adoption of their recipe enhancements.
With sites like Flickr and YouTube, where consumers can easily show off their creativity, it shouldn’t be that hard for brands to embed at least some basic “status skills” into their offerings.