That morning I took one of my father’s watch, a Seiko Diver that was given by an old friend.

He told me he just found out earlier, that the watch is worth quite a lot for a Seiko, because it was used by a character from a classic movie.

We then ended up discussing about the levels of customer consumption, based on how a product is built. It is quite an interesting conversation, for it made me able to structurize and learn where my studio, Wordshelf, positioned its service.

The first level is the most basic product. Most product out there that can be utilized properly and provide standard satisfaction. A cup of coffee, pack of instant noodle, a headphone, or a plush doll. People who buy these products expect to fulfill their need and will assess the quality of the product based on how much their needs are gratified.

The second level is when the physical attribute of a product is modified to create varied taste, varied design, and eventually varied, if not better, function. Black coffee becomes cappuccino, instant noodle comes with unique flavors, Bluetooth implemented in headphones and toys built like soldiers and princesses. Companies create these varieties to serve the specific market and give alternatives to customers. Product diversification promises more profit, as they provide new satisfaction with a simple modification that will not disrupt economies of scale. Many products choose this way due to the easily saturated market for certain product variety in modern society. Or in layman’s term. People get bored easily, so companies make more and more new products.

The final level is where things get interesting. Products who can tap this level can maintain a higher price with less actual value. Market saturation is considerably slower for these third level products, as customers enjoy more than the function, but what the product stands for, characters who used the products, and what kind of aspiration can be fulfilled by utilizing it.

It’s the products with a story.

Coffee enthusiast enjoys the fact that some coffees are cultivated from different regions, roasted in unique methods and brewed with a certain coffee maker. An Instant noodle brand creates characters who joke about frugal college life, goes viral in social media. Headphones used in a blockbuster about dystopian future sold double the normal price. And of course, merchandises of space knights or superheroes went like hot cakes. Customers no longer buy with their head, but with their heart for these third level products. They care less about function but what they feel when they utilize and consume them. Shoes with motivational stories pumped them to run faster. Heritage stories of a tea bag make them feel like a historian. Cafes shaped like a princess castle teleport them to another world. A story provides more than satisfaction, but an experience to be remembered and retold.

That’s where Wordshelf studio comes in. To inject brands with stories and push them to the third stage. In this stage, they can gain exponential image boost, customer loyalty, and even revenue gain. Though I must confer that this stage is not without risk. Since there is no certainty in how the customer valued a third level product, there is also no definite formula to keep their loyalty for your story. There will also be anomalies, where products cannot even serve their basic functions yet they get much attention due to peculiar stories. These anomalies tend to disappear promptly, yet can disrupt the products that have been orderly building their customers. And the most tedious part is, of course, maintenance. Now that your customers have turned into fans, they must be pleased accordingly with routine content updates and character development. What’s your character’s next adventure? reveal more exciting details about your heritage, build products that can appear in more blockbusters, make micro contents for video streaming platforms and social media. And then, keep doing it over and over again. Until you are ready to introduce your next stories.

Sutansyah Marahakim

1,399 Replies to “The Three Level of Consumption”
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