The Products We Buy Change Who We Are

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I just bought a denim work shirt, made by Levi’s.

It’s somewhere between a collared shirt and a jacket–thick, rigid, dark. I’ve been wearing it basically every day. I feel autonomous and convicted when I put it on, like the classic rebel character in the 501 CT Commercial.

My girlfriend has a lot of fun putting on different kinds of makeup, and while I don’t necessarily think she looks better with it on, she feels prettier, so she walks with more confidence, and ultimately is more beautiful because of it.

The cars we drive, the music we listen to, the phones we use, and the drinks we order are all avenues for us to evolve and change.

They all help us become who we want to be.

Some might disagree, arguing that a product could never change who we are, that corporate brands just want us to feel like they’re helping us so we buy more.

I agree that a product can’t change my nature, but I think it can nurture me into a new version of myself. If I wear a tie every day, it’s likely I’ll hear, “lookin’ sharp” more than someone who doesn’t wear ties. If people think I’m a guy who looks like he knows what he’s doing, they’ll treat me with more respect. If people respect me, I’ll start to operate in that mindset, and make more confident decisions.

In short, I’ll be changed.

Does buying a BMW immediately make you successful? No. Will wearing leather pants make people treat you like a rockstar? Probably not. Can consumerism solve deep issues inside us? Absolutely not.

But can a new pair of shoes can make you feel cool, earn you compliments, and change your mood for the morning? Yes. And a lot of happy mornings turns you into a happy, confident person (at least most of the time).

So if you’re a marketer, think of the ways the products you promote can help people become a new version of themselves. And encourage them to take that first step. And since we’re all consumers, let’s consider which products bring us the most personal value, and invest in the ones that really change how we feel, instead of just buying the ones that bring us the most status.

The physical, the mental, and the spiritual are much more closely connected than we realize, and sometimes the first step to change is a physical step.

Joshua Reese