Sep 8, 2015

Achieve Higher Prices Through Storytelling

A baseball cap worn by Neil Armstrong after the Apollo 11 mission sells for $12,000. A typewriter belonging to novelist Cormac McCarthy sells for $254,500. A football used during the NFL’s “deflategate” scandal sells for $43,740.

Baseball caps and footballs are commonly available for under $10; typewriters for under $100. Clearly, in the above sales the extrinsic value of the items greatly exceeded the intrinsic, functional value of the items. A $6 baseball cap shades the eyes as well as Armstrong’s $12,000 cap. A $100 typewriter types as well (in some cases) as a $254,000 typewriter. As antique dealers, we understand that an antique’s extrinsic value — its rarity and provenance — are major contributors to an item’s price.

Sometimes, though, prices achieved by run-of-the-mill consumer objects — ones that are neither rare nor of noteworthy provenance — reach absurd levels. Why do we humans imbue such common items with high value? Antique dealers who understand why this happens can achieve higher prices for their merchandise and move those dull, old inventory items off their shelves.

Material Culturist Tara Bloom states: “Objects or artifacts often symbolize something more than their intrinsic nature … through personal association objects gain subjective meaning based on the memories that we have of them.” According to writers Glenn and Walker, such “memories” can be artificially created and passed to an objects new owner.

For the past two decades The Significant Objects Project, an ongoing study by brand analyst Joshua Glenn and New York Times Magazine contributor Rob Walker, has demonstrated that common objects can be infused with extrinsic value even where none actually exists. When that occurs, consumers are willing to pay higher prices for said objects. >>>Read More

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