Ok time to stop stalling about writing my review and get this off the shelf, especially since likemind gave out copies this morning.
Rob Walker of Murketing and the New York Times Magazine has taken his murketing theories and created a magnificent lens onto the perpetual roles of consumption and consumerism in America. Walker has an astonishing array of sources and background stories, each meticulously researched and hand picked for advancing an tactful ideology about brands, products and our behaviors
Ive always loved Rob's attention to tap the pulse of relevancy in terms of brands and cultural mavens, and this book is no slouch. From the humble beginnings of Red Bull and Ecko, he charts a path from idea to success, and you feel the optimism bristling quite like the entrepreneurs had themselves. Other brands include Hello Kitty, PBR, Tylenol, Axe, Scion and the Hundreds amongst many, many others. Each brand lends a building and steadying sense of credibility to a carefree consumption it seems that Americans, in particular enjoy engaging in.
Having heard Rob speak and read many of his articles, I can say this book in quite an extension of his murketing theories. In fact its the perfect culimination and forum to extend those thoughts, which often felt confined by the medium it appeared in every week. Walker has an incredible ability to break down how brands engage consumers, rather it be ambiguity, hyper-advocates, misnomers about perceptions, internal badge value, and commercialization of chitchat amongst others.
Walker believes we actually have a "good problem" on our hands where any product is pretty much a commodity and can be replicated cheaply, easily and found almost anywhere. This places the emphasis on the engagement and value placed by the consumer to the forefront of the consumption cycle. Most often consumers are buying products for the wrong reasons. We arent necessarily buying food for nutritional value but for taste instead. Examining it in that light, really puts the beauty in the eye of the beholder, a value we create for ourselves. Walker pulls in some fancy psychologists to explain this on a more scientific level, but it certainly sticks by that point.
It certainly leaves you with a new appreciation for products and for markets. It left me looking deeper into the actual and perceived value of objects. Its a fantastic read for anyone engaged in brands and looking for a deeper meaning to the role we play in influencing and creating behavior. Pick yours up today at your local bookstore or here.
[Ed. Note] Rob was kind enough to link my review to his site, though im sure it will get bumped when somone has something more eloquent. Thanks Rob!