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Monday, April 22, 2019

Put a Sock in It

I’m still trying to figure out my “lifestyle brands.” At 67, perhaps I’m just not as style conscious as I used to be. Or maybe I never was.

Marketing is now advancing this concept of lifestyle brands. It’s certainly happening with men’s socks and underwear. I know because I see the ads…everywhere.

Take the men’s briefs ads. We have the Tommy John brand. We have your Mack Weldon…which are supposedly very “well done.” (insert snicker) There’s the Jack & Jones brand. There’s even Buck Naked Underwear from Duluth Trading Company. (Let’s pass on more information about that.)

Get this. According to Marks & Spencer, the Official British Empire of British Underwear, women are starting to buy men’s underwear. The British retailer claims half of their men’s underwear is currently bought by women. Apparently, they must not think the men in their life know great style in that department.

Then you have your socks. Bombas ads bomb us with messages like, “8 reasons why people are obsessed with these socks.” Or my favorite, “The most comfortable socks in the history of feet.” (Really? How far back can we really trace this?) Their bonus Bombas offer to the buyer is that they donate one pair of socks for each pair purchased. This alone made me fear looking at the price.

The folks at Hidden Peak Outdoor pitch this: “Hidden Peak Outdoor™ performance socks were created for you, the adventurer. With unmatched style, comfort, and quality, Hidden Peak Outdoor will keep you comfortable beyond the journey. Explore the possibilities with Hidden Peak Outdoor.” Explore the possibilities?? In my sock drawer?

This more recent development of lifestyle branding in marketing of goods and services is big. In fact, the business world has taken to this in such a grand way that the term “lifestyle brand” has its own Wikipedia page! More on that next week.

Last summer, the NewYork Times ran a piece to educate us on this topic. The article is titled, “When is a Burrito More than Just a Burrito? When It’s a Lifestyle.” And you guessed it. Lifestyle branding includes food.

The opening paragraphs explain how the new chief marketing officer for Chipotle restaurants redefined the vision for the well known company. He’s got plans to develop your feelings about their burritos and tacos. Can’t wait.

Said Christopher Brandt, “Our ultimate marketing mission is to make Chipotle not just a food brand but a purpose-driven lifestyle brand.” What exactly did he mean? “Chipotle will become a brand that people want to know about, want to be a part of and want to wear as a badge.” Okay. Now with my socks and underwear I’m wearing the badge of Chipotle. Is that a good thing?

There’s more. The Times noted that Godiva has more ways to grab your dollars. Their desire is “to be seen as a lifestyle brand by leveraging their culinary expertise to expand beyond chocolates.” Other companies mentioned include Pizza Hut, Blue Apron, and IHOP. These all now describe themselves as lifestyle brands.

Why would you have such a brand affinity? Mr. Brandt believes, "When you walk down the street with a Starbucks cup, it can be a badge for people, it says something about you,” Yeah. That I like STARBUCKS COFFEE!

You mean there’s something else? Yes. It’s the effort brands are making to show they represent “something larger than the mere goods they sell.” Something meaningful in life besides…money.

In the world of church and the spiritual life, many brands exist. Jesus followers have LOTS of brands. Many compete for your allegiance. The great apostle Paul saw this happening way back when — in the early church. And it bugged him.

People were bragging about their “brand” of faith teacher. To this Paul wrote, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31, ESV) All churches need this reminder.

As for me, I have my own brand of socks. They’re called, “Hole-eez” You don’t want to know.

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