Read More: Popular Science
You probably want to own a mattress you’ve seen advertised on Facebook. Or maybe it’s not a mattress you crave, maybe it’s that reinvented bra. It’s the wool shoes. It’s the super soft modal undies. It’s whatever ad (or 20) you’ve been targeted with for the past year. The product itself isn’t even relevant—it’s the marketing strategy that gets you. “People get this psychological gratification from feeling good about their own decision making,” says consumer psychologist and consultant Kit Yarrow. “It feels so good to feel that you figured out the whole mattress thing, and everyone else is still going around lying on mattresses in department stores.” Yarrow is a professor emeritus at Golden Gate University and taught consumer behavior for years, but she also consults for companies who want to figure out how to sell their products. And to her, one of the big vulnerabilities consumers have today is the yearning to belong. There’s a sense of identity that you get from buying from a small, innovative company that you just don’t get from shopping at your local Sears. To buy a branded mattress isn’t merely to purchase a bed—it’s to become the kind of person who buys that kind of bed. You are a person who has figured out what those darn establishment mattress companies are up to, and you’re not fooled. You’ve purchased a high quality, carefully crafted product that proves how savvy you are. You’ve bought it at a price that they tell you cuts out endless middlemen. And not only that, but you feel good about buying from a company you feel you know. The fact that you didn’t grow up seeing advertisements for these mattresses on TV makes you feel like it’s something you discovered. It feels small and intimate—and relatable—in a way that generic department stores don’t.