But you already knew this, right? Why else would Apple stores look like austere temples, replete with the graven idols of 30″ Cinema Displays and iPhones perched upon pedestals like holy statuary.
While it’s easy (and fun) to mock the world’s most fetishized partial objects, the cold hard truth is that enthusiasts’ reactions to Apple are no different than the reactions to other mega-brands among their followers. Apple is just much better at this kind of marketing than anyone else.
The statement of the neuroscientists and the image above come from a BBC documentary called Secrets of the Superbrands. The documentary discusses the ability of certain world-renown brands to elicit euphoric or devoted response from consumer, and the psychology and neuroscience behind it. The documentary attempts to conclude that “it’s by tapping into our basic needs, like gossip, religion or sex that these brands are taking over our world at such lightning speed,” but that seems to gloss over what is really happening.
I suspect that what makes certain brands achieve this particular status is their ability to disguise or hide the pedestrian technical details of their products in favor of deliver a more potent and magical message: there is something you, the consumer, want to become-more popular more connected, more trendy, more cool, and these products give you the illusion of achieving that. I say it’s an illusion because the reality is that rather than bringing the consumer closer to achieving that fantasy, the product intercedes and mediates the consumers relationship to that fantasy, teasing it, but never delivering.
That’s the essence of commodity fetishism, and that’s what these megabrands deliver to their fans. That’s what religion delivers to believers as well. We constantly and repeatedly promise you heaven, but not yet, and only according to our system of rules.
And that’s why both groups are deeply devoted, emotionally invested, and impervious to rational argument.