We were walking by the marina bay shopping mall, everything was so fascinating and so beautiful. Stores of luxurious brands one after the other, brands whose name I have never heard of, names which I couldn’t even pronounce, these stores were everywhere all around us, with beautiful lights and an enchanting aura around them. I couldn’t even afford to buy a single thing from here. This was the luxury segment about which I have read so much, In theory, I knew that wearing a $50,000 watch is luxury but now that I have seen it in front of me placed in the shelf. Now I can feel the ‘force’, and it was very compelling, tempting me to open the shelf and wear it, to walk out of the store with the watch on my hand and this frenzy was getting out of control. It was the voice of the salesman which brought me back to my sense. He was around 5”5’ lean clean shaved with neat black hair, wearing a black suit. He asked me, “what would you like to have, sir?” I came back to my senses. I could see it in his eyes, he wanted me out of there, or was it my own insecurity? I looked at him he was smiling and then he asked me again, “what are you looking for” I stepped back and told him “Nah...nothing I’m just looking at the stuff here, I can’t afford this” this was my defence mechanism! Somewhere in that moment, I felt in his eyes that he wants me out of his store. Then and there I had a realization, I was aspiring to that watch knowing fully that I can’t afford it.
This is a typical behaviour of human beings, we aspire for more. Marketers use this behaviour to build brands. Such brands are called aspirational brands. They are the brands' people (especially millennials) aspire to buy but couldn’t buy due to economic constraints. There are two types of audience for such brands, one is the aspirational category which believe that over the time they will have the purchasing power to buy products of that brand and the other is consumption audience which already consumes the products of the brand. The aspirational identity of a brand is increasingly becoming important as the millennials are coming to grab a share in the economy. Some brands are generically aspirational like Rolex, while some are aspirational for the particular category of people, e.g. Panteen shampoo for the rural market in India. However, the later is an FMCG brand so few parameters are different for them like P&G has launched smaller SKU’s of the product for their set of ‘aspirational customers’ who can’t afford to buy the bigger SKUs. For Rolex that is not possible. In fact, if we talk about the rural segment in our category they are the most aspirational, they are consuming more of the premium brands in smaller SKUs than the brands which are targeted for them.
The incident with the salesman in that shop made me realize how marketing is about understanding the psychology of human behaviour. I’m sometimes amazed by how billions of people have contributed to marketing over the years and we don’t even give credit to them! Like the goldsmiths of India who observed something tried it and passed his knowledge to his son, or the grocery store owner who has been playing gimmicks with the customers and passing the knowledge along with his business. It’s an art like 'painting' which is intuition based and a science in itself and mastered over time.