The Illusion of Luxury

Companies and marketers have often used tricks to make us think that something is more valuable or scarce (and thus more valuable) than it actually is. Psychologists have been studying the marketing phenomenon since Don Draper and his band of Mad Merry Men invented marketing in 1960.

Whether it’s adding useless parts into a product to make it feel heavier and thus more valuable or paying for private clubs or ‘exclusive’ ‘credit cards’ we are drawn to things or experiences that make us feel as if we have something no one else does. As if this moment, right here was made just for us.

Yesterday I got a replacement credit card. Marriott rebranded their rewards program, and thus their co-branded credit cards. Previously the “Marriott Premier Plus” card had been made of metal. It was a normal thickness, had a slight weight to it, and allowed me to use it in exchange for goods and services. This new “Marriott Bonvoy Boundless” is just a flimsy piece of plastic and also has a stupid name.

Until yesterday I did not know that I cared about that.

I’m still not 100% convinced I actually do, but clearly enough of me does to write the previous paragraph.