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Cutility: Frills Follow Function? August 24, 2007

Posted by goodmind in Attribute Dependency, Function Follows Form.

In a follow up to our post on Attribute Dependency as the preferred mode of thinking for advertisers, check out this article from the Washington Post, excerpted below;

“Alan Andreasen, a marketing guru at Georgetown University, says the trend toward cutility is “an attempt by lots of people to individualize both themselves and their possessions.”

He equates the cuting-up of the commonplace with “tattoos, customized cellphones and ringtones as a way to step away from mass commoditization.”

Credit, he says, goes to the clever marketers who have found ways to breathe life into mundane commodity categories.”

The cutility trend fuses individualism with mass produced commodities.  The implied benefit for the customer is the expression of self through ownership of a “staple” item, that would most likely be purchased regardless of aesthetic appeal.  Joe Anybody may express his indviduality with a brass knuckles wine opener, rather than getting a painful tattoo, or body piercing.  Not only does he show the world how tough he is, he can get that bottle of Merlot open in no time.   

However, can clever marketing really be considered Inventive Thinking in the way we have been describing it?  Perhaps we should introduce a new pattern; Function Follows Frills.  Identify and understand the needs (frills) of a target segment, and slap those needs onto a functional product.  There’s no other way to explain a brass knuckle wine opener.   



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