The Pen is Even Mightier

With all the recent news of social media being used to expose the election fraud in Iran, I hope pencasting proves to be another way that the pen can be mightier that the sword.

I recently discovered a pencast posted on the web that completely changed my mental model of writing instruments. The pencast was made with a smartpen, which enables a pen to do so much more than just blot ink on notebook paper. Viewing a pencast is like watching a whiteboard presentation and I found the medium to be very engaging to watch and easy to share using links or through social media. My keyword research on twitter and the web show that lead users are mostly sharing pencasts to teach concepts and create rich media blog posts.

What other great uses do you think there are for this product? Decide for yourself after watching this short and entertaining pencast.

The Safety of Objects

Building strong brand connections is an important goal of most marketers today. Typically, brand connections are believed to depend upon the actions taken by a firm (e.g., delivering outstanding service, crafting high quality products, etc.). However, it is also possible that some brand connections may also depend upon the characteristics of a firm's customers. For example, a large body of consumer research has shown that some consumers are more materialistic than others. So, are highly materialistic consumers more likely to be attached to brands than those who less materialistic? This was the question that my colleagues (James Burroughs @ Virginia & Nancy Wong @ Wisconsin) investigated in a research project that was recently published (June 2009) in the Journal of Consumer Research. Based on ideas grounded in terror management theory (see Ernest Becker's Denial of Death), we suggest that materialistic individuals form strong connections to their brands as a response to existential insecurity. We tested this premise by conducting a national survey among 314 adults as well as an experiment among 125 college students. Our results provided broad support for our thesis and suggest that the fear of death encourages materialistic individuals to form strong connections with their brands. This finding challenges conventional wisdom, which holds that materialistic individuals are weakly connected to brands and use them as superficial status badges. Instead, we found that when materialistic individuals thought about death, they formed deep and strong connections to their brands (across multiple product categories, including cell phones, sunglasses, jeans, MP3 players, and microwave ovens). Thus, our research suggests that materialistic individuals are strongly connected to their brands and employ them as an important source of meaning in their lives. In brief, our research suggests that materialistic consumers with anxiety about their existence are especially in need of the symbolic security that brand connections provide. Given the recent rise in materialistic tendencies along with the media's heightened focus on existential threats, the number of consumers who display this combination of values and motives should increase in the near future.  This research project has also been featured in Obit Magazine.


Est. 2008 | Aric Rindfleisch | Wisconsin School of Business | Banner Image by Bruce Fritz