Hype in B2B?
If you’re in the market for a pair of chopsticks, Amazon would suggest you opt for the ‘KitchenCraft World of Flavours Japanese Style Wooden Chopsticks, 24 cm, Pack of 10’ for a mere £3.32.
But if you want to look a bit more on trend at your next dinner party, you can pick up a pair of ‘Supreme’ branded chopsticks on StockX for a cool 76 quid.
While on the face of it they are the same item, with the same utility, the Supreme version (23x the price) will be snapped up. Why? Because anything with the Supreme logo on tends to be a Veblen good – i.e. one in which as prices increase, demand increases with it (causing an upward sloping demand curve).
I learned all this from an excellent article by Mara Dettmann at BBH Labs who writes about creating hype through advertising.
In the article, Mara talks about ‘Hype Culture’ and explores the irrationality of consumers who are willing to shell out huge amounts of money for items that are either ‘dropped’ onto the market in small numbers, or priced incredibly high to increase demand.
This phenomenon is termed ‘conspicuous consumption’ and describes the purchase of items in order to display wealth or power. In layman’s terms, ‘I’m using these Supreme chopsticks because I am both incredibly cool and extremely rich at the same time’.
It got me thinking; if Veblen goods, like the £76 chopsticks, are purchased by people to be public displays of power, why couldn’t the same exist with B2B products?
Why aren’t there products that are ‘dropped’ in small numbers onto the market and have hugely inflated prices which, when purchased, become public displays of the coolness and power of a brand?
In her article, Mara gave some examples of unexpected consumer products that could be hyped (car insurance, tampons, electricity) and we took inspiration to think of some B2B products that could be hyped (to be incredibly clear these are all made up):
Xero Nitro – An exclusive drop of the accounting software platform only accessible to 200 companies who want to show they really take running their business seriously. Comes with a unique badge that users can stick on their website to show their prowess.
Cisco Bass – If you want to really make a splash on your conference call, users will be informed they are dialing into a company who have Cisco Bass one of only 15 special edition Cisco conference phones retailing at £50,000 a pop.
Ricoh X Supreme – Most printers lay hidden away in a small back room, taken for granted and out of sight. But with the latest collaboration between Ricoh and SUPREME, businesses lucky enough to get their hands on this special edition product display them proudly in the middle of their office for all to see.
Of course, these are extreme examples. But we know that business buyers are people too – and B2B marketers are already using behavioural principles like nudge theory and loss aversion to influence buyers. So why shouldn’t hype be the next frontier?
So the question is, who will be the first B2B brand interesting enough to do an exclusive drop at a pop-up in Brooklyn this year?
Do you have your own ideas for B2B hype products? Share them with us on Twitter using the #hypeinb2b tag.