What we think of a man or woman is often rooted in something as simple as their jewelry and accessories. I’ve always been interested in the behavioral mechanisms that cause people to behave the way they do.
The more you understand why you think the way you do and how others think, the more control you will have over your behavior and the impression you make on others. In this post we’ll explore the power of association, and in the very last couple paragraphs, I’ll let you in on a little secret!
Opinion Shortcuts and Social Associations
One of the most powerful behavioral tools human beings use is called association. Association is one way we quickly draw conclusions without having to do research or spend time gathering information. Think of it as an opinion-making shortcut. Say you see someone talking with a person who was well liked and wealthy. Because this person is talking with a well liked powerful person, you consciously or unconsciously may conclude that they too are person of power and influence. You don’t even have to take the time to get to know them. They must be wealthy and powerful. This is called making a social association.
Association, Brands and Fashion
Now let’s apply the power of association to accessories and clothing. I occasionally disagree with my lovely wife about the ‘need’ to own a Gucci purse. Being in manufacturing as long as I have, I can look at most leather accessories or jewelry and tell you within $100 how much it cost to manufacture. I patiently tell her: ‘That $3000 Gucci purse you ‘need’ costs about $250 to make.’ However, my efforts are to no avail because she already has several ingrained associations regarding the Gucci brand.
On one level, she unconsciously associates the name Gucci with quality, as we generally do with all products made in Italy. If it has the name Gucci stamped on it, it must be high quality. Congratulations to the marketing folks at Gucci. Through years of effective marketing and associating Gucci with the rich and famous, they have successfully convinced the consumer that the name Gucci is synonymous with quality.
The other association process my wife might not even be aware of is the associative conclusion other women might make when they see her carrying a Gucci purse: They might conclude that my wife is a woman of good taste and must have money. She is carrying a Gucci. They don’t even know her, but by the power of her association with a Gucci product she has already made a positive social impression on other women.
Designer Cufflinks, Men’s Accessories and Association
This paradigm is no less true when it comes to men’s accessories. Men will buy a suit because it is made by Armani or cuff links because they are made by John Hardy. Both of these companies have successfully associated their brand with quality and success.
A man may purchase these branded products because he associated the name with quality, but other men will notice what he is wearing and think: ‘Armani suit, John Hardy cuff links, this guy must be successful and have money.’ Then there is the dubious conclusion that if someone is wealthy what they think and say must be important.
Some consumers will buy a high end branded accessory not because they necessarily associate it with quality, they buy it because they know the positive impression it will make on others. The association of brands with quality and success on conscious and unconscious levels is a major driving force behind consumer spending. Because of the power of association, wearing expensive branded accessories can give others the impression that you are sophisticated and successful and you won’t even have to say a word!
Best Kept Secret in the Game of Association
Scarcity! That’s very often a key part of the mystic which starts a designer on the path to celebrity. Think of fine art and what it’s like to find an artist BEFORE their solo show in NY or Paris. Designer accessories can be thought of in the same way. Rather than buying pieces which are mass produced overseas, one way to stay ahead of the pack is to find designers who craft stand-out designs of exceptional quality in a smaller quantity. In doing this you will have the luxury of having people stop you and ask, “Where did you find THAT?”
There are perks and benefits to having the inside track on a clothing, jewelry or accessories designer. While competitive, their prices are significantly less than the uber-brands. The workmanship, customer service and care for your satisfaction is typically first rate. After all, they are looking to establish a long-term relationship and you are looking for that illusive vein of gold which your friends have not yet tapped!
David D. Bull, GG
By appointment in Aspen, CO
Call (970) 456-5700
Innovative, artistically original jewelry & accessory
designs of high quality and exceptional value.