We do just about everything because of status. We make decisions based on status. We do the work we choose because of status. We have the spouse we have because of status. We have the ambitions we have because of status. We have the dreams we possess because of status. We have the house we have because of status. We drive the car we drive because of status. We wear the clothes we wear because of status. We eat at the restaurant we eat at because of status. We have the friends we hang around with the most because of status.
As Seth Godin says in This is Marketing, “People like us do things like this.” Because of status. Because we want to be identified as someone who does this. We want to be identified as a member of the exclusive country club. We want to be identified as the Tesla driver. We want to be identified as the C-Level executive. We want to be identified as the local celebrity. We want to be identified as the generous philanthropist. We want to be identified as someone who eats high-end surf & turf. We want to be identified as an Executive Platinum member on American. We want to be identified as the couple who stays at the Ritz Carlton. We want to be identified as all these things because of status, because we want to be seen with the group that does things like this.
This is not bad, to be status-seeking. It’s good for the economy. It’s good for innovation. It’s good for human beings to constantly be striving for something. Goals are not optional for us. We set them in order to set our sights on what it is we think we want. Then, we pursue them aggressively. Goals give us somewhere to aim, a place to drive, focus. Without goals, we are aimless and listless and directionless. We are mentally and physically lost without them.
Status is not necessarily conscious. We do not actively talk about status and discuss our place in the tribe with our friends and colleagues. Status is unconscious, always in the back of our minds, simmering away in its decision-making authority. It is ironic how something so central to our decision-making is so far away from our recognition. Yet, here we go, making another decision because of it.
Exceptional salesmanship and marketing plays off of our drive for status. Membership has its privileges, after all. We want to belong to the exclusive group. We want to be identified as these people, not those people. We desire to be seen dining at Catch L.A. in West Hollywood. We desire to be seen driving the Model S. We desire to be photographed having a drink at the Ritz Carlton bar by the Paparazzi. We desire to be noticed sitting in First Class. We desire the exclusive concierge medical treatment. We desire what’s elusive, what’s scarce, what’s hard to get. We cannot help ourselves. Savvy marketers that know this can make us buy all day long, into the night. Sell me higher status, please. Show me something elusive to aspire to. A new place I can dream about belonging in, fitting in, being seen there. In your marketing, take me there — now.
Now, we know why country clubs try to remain exclusive and difficult to get into. Now, we know why American wants to sell you Executive Platinum when you’re already Platinum Pro for only $2,395. Now, we know why Ritz Carlton can still sell a hotel room for $8,000 a night in Boston. Now, we know why Elon Musk can sell us a Model S for $125,000 and his new roadster for $250,000. Now, we know why we want our kids to get into the 192nd Street Y. Now, we know why we want to vacation in Bora Bora.
We never stop competing for status.