There is an adventure gap between our purchases and the activities they may be able to perform. These products allow us to feel like we are living an adventurous life. While remaining comfortable and safe.
The new Toyota Highlander blurb highlights some of these anomalies. While already assuming that we can be driving in the highlands of Scotland. Now we don’t just sit around we go out and discover nature, the new aggressive front grill, says you have an attitude, for adventure. It does go on to mention 5 ports to charge up your mobile devices, enhancing convenience, but still suggesting that they are mobile like their users. The “highlander” branding connotation, struck me as quite odd when I was in Scotland at the start of the West Highland Way hike.
The small town of Milngavie is the gateway to the Highlands for hikers. Walking across the Tesco car park, I could not believe how many four wheel drive vehicles there were. I’m used to that living in a small country town in Australia. Here a woman in a normal car, was trying to reverse out of a car space between two of these high sided monsters. I acted as a car park attendant and guided her out into the flow of other monsters.
An advertisement in Australia came to mind, it felt strange there, but here it felt ridiculous. The”highlander”driving in nature, to the top of a beautiful hill, the vegetation being flattened. As the “highlander” carries it’s passengers into a comfortable adventure. Multiply that outwards and we quickly have an ecological disaster to deal with. The edginess of the advertisement implied, that you are getting away from it all, on your own adventure. Yet not explaining that you would be surrounded by other adventurers. Like the four wheel drive park at Tesco’s.
As the economic market seeks consumption, it’s looking to the edges to involve the”wild”of nature. To tame it with comfort, for economic advantage. Hybrid branding is everywhere, as we become separated from simple adventure, we naturally crave more. The branding can be all that’s needed, leaving only a word association to the freedom of nature. Utility vehicles once carried the tools and equipment of working men in a functional way.
Now their being branded to apply to a younger man. Certain utility vehicles are becoming edgy, suggesting one use but supporting another. A sports car look with striking metallic colors, canopies enclose the back, but lower to the ground. Nature can’t be left out in this branding of a free spirit, Breeze and thunder are two names that feature on the livery, but I’m sure there are others.
The high costs.
The relatively high purchase cost of all these recreational vehicles compared to most normal vehicles. Suggests, that many individuals are taking out loans, to fund this sense of freedom. Get away from it all, but make sure you work hard enough to service the loan. For a while I noticed a small sprig of colored flowers as a decal on small sedan cars. This was intended towards the feminine market, but I haven’t seen these around for awhile. To win the hearts of women, they needed to create an emotional response, which I’m not sure a car can do.
Four wheel drive vehicles can evoke a feeling of safety for women and their children. Surrounded by various heavy duty components and also being higher above the road. “Highlander” has a different feature with women in mind, a microphone system that makes talking to passengers in the back seats easier. Telling the kids to pipe down and behave is a breeze, but neglects to say if they’ll listen.
There is an adventure gap in our clothing as well, the things that we own were designed for more dangerous activities, than they actually perform. A Patagonia puffer jacket, designed to withstand freezing temperatures on the side of a mountain, is traversing the freezer section in the local supermarket. Hiking boots designed for the Himalayas are scaling the terrain of the local farmers market. There is an anomaly as well, as the outdoor equipment stores adopt clever disguises. The local outdoor shop is selling socks that picture hikers on the lower slopes of Everest. There pretending to sell adventure equipment, but they are actually selling boring stuff like normal clothing.
“Don’t buy this jacket” Patagonia to give away all retail revenues on black Friday”
While not the biggest supplier of outdoor equipment. Patagonia made a grand gesture when it gave away 10 million in Black Friday sales. The American Presidents lack of support to the global warming debate supposedly caused this action. Registered in California as a benefit corporation donating 1% of annual gross revenues. So far it’s given around 74 million through this initiative. It’s still a small player in the American market and with only a tiny slice of the 4 billion a year European market.
The black Friday gesture was a move to eschew capitalist values on Americas busiest shopping day. Despite telling customers not to buy its jacket, Patagonia’s sales on black Friday actually increased. The companies grand gesture didn’t include discounted items, but drew thousands of first time customers. Thoughtful consumption, the idea is that enlightened consumers don’t buy what companies do, they buy the reasons why companies do what they do. Intelligent consumers, or another branding trick?