My youngest grandchild, Samantha, will turn two at Thanksgiving time....
She's just starting to speak words adults can recognize. Of course, the first words were "Mama" and "Dada," but the word she now says most distinctly and emphatically is "Mine!"
This is her first four-letter street word. Or maybe she learned it from the other children in the day care facility. Whatever the origin, it's now her word, and her thought.
What does this have to do with marketing? Remember the Wordsworth line "the child is father of the man." If a two-year-old expresses feelings about ownership, what do disenfranchised 20-year-olds or 50-year-olds feel? The average American can't own something big. If it's a house, for example, the bank really owns it most of the time. Perhaps that's why collectables still have such appeal, and why timeshares (both vacation homes and super luxury automobiles) are booming.
When you have mass advertising and mass production, it is difficult to convey ownership. It's difficult for a buyer to say "Mine!" when everyone on the block has the same product in the same color. Customization allows the buyer to say "Mine!", and the marketing that works conveys that as a benefit of purchase.
Out of the mouths of babes–
Lee Marc Stein is a direct marketing consultant and copywriter with over 40 years experience. He has developed and executed direct marketing programs for a wide variety of marketers in the publishing, insurance and financial services, nonprofit, technology, and business-to-business arenas. Current clients include Effectiveness Solutions Research, Entertainment Publications, Long Island Children’s Museum, National Grants Conferences, Rickard List Marketing, Travelers Insurance, and a number of direct response agencies.
As a direct response agency executive, Lee worked with companies like Chase, Colonial Penn Auto Insurance, Dial Corporation, Hertz, Mead Johnson, The Money Store, and U.S. Airways. He also held marketing management positions at Standard & Poor’s, BusinessWeek, and McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company.
Lee taught at NYU and Hofstra, and has spoken at 100+ industry conferences. He was a Founder of the Long Island Direct Marketing Association, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island.