Do you suffer from "Gadget lust"?

Summary:Come on now, be honest.  When was the last time you suffered from "gadget lust"?

Come on now, be honest.  When was the last time you suffered from "gadget lust"?  I mean serious "gotta have it right now" kind of gadget lust?

All of the stuff that you're surrounded by was bought as a result of two core emotions - you wanted to gain pleasure or you wanted to avoid pain.  If you buy something because it is going to save you a bunch of time and make your life easier, you were avoiding pain.  If you bought something because you saw it and really had to have it because it was the coolest thing that you'd seen in the last 10 minutes, you bought it to gain pleasure.  Between pure pleasure and pure utility is a broad spectrum of feelings and emotions, and somewhere in the middle lies apathy.  Gadget lust takes this pain/pleasure seesaw one step further and combines the two - this is where buying a particular product will give you massive amounts of pleasure, while not buying (or, worse still, buying a competing product) will result in stacks of pain.

Dominance in any gadget-related market is a sure sign that gadget lust is driving salesThere are more businesses than ever in the tech field who rely on gadget lust to prop up their bottom line.  Most of these companies wouldn't openly admit that their success is a 50/50 mix of pure accident and clever marketing which resulted in the right conditions for gadget lust to form, instead they'd give you a whole host of other reasons why their gadget is a success and everyone else's in the same market sucks (even though there is very little separating their product from all of the others).  While customers will, and do, buy products for logical reasons and this alone can make a product successful, if you want to really dominate the market then you need to get your customers buying for emotional reasons. This puts the customer in a trance-like state where they are more likely to click "buy" or slap the plastic on the sales counter.

Dominance in any gadget-related market is a sure sign that gadget lust is driving sales.

Probably the best example of a product that sells because of gadget lust is the iPod.  Yes, it's a pretty good product, and yes, it is pretty easy to use and it does what it says on the box, but that isn't enough to dominate the market and crush the competition, especially when Apple isn't competing on price (don't believe me that low prices don't allow you to dominate the market, then check out the Windows vs. Linux numbers).  No, what you are seeing is gadget lust in action.  Right from the start Apple knew that the only way they were going to make any headway in the audio player market (which was already pretty crowded when they entered it) was by pumping up the emotional reasons to buy and try to bypass logical reasoning.  They did this, and did it very successfully.  Everything, from the design of the device to the sales copy to the packaging, was carefully controlled by Apple.  Even will millions of iPods in circulation, customers still feel that they are gaining entry into an exclusive club.

Gadget lust also applies to PC components such as graphics cards and CPUs.  When you're spending big bucks for a few percent extra performance, that kind of buying decision is unlikely to be driven by logical reasoning.  Similarly, whenever you see an expensive, pro gadget in the hands of an amateur (high-end digital cameras are an example of this), it's almost always as a result of gadget lust.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with buying for emotional reasons – sometimes it's the only way products will sell (for example, it's hard for most people to justify a high-end CPU or graphics card on a price/performance comparison, it has to be emotional). 

Both men and women are susceptible to gadget lust, although it seems that men have a much lower immunity (the theory is that this goes back to the spear and the desire to create a better, more effective pointy stick but I think that cultural conditioning and the fact that both tech companies and marketing companies are dominated by men has a lot to do with it). 

A market where you see companies (and their advertisers) trying, but on the whole failing, to generate gadget lust is in the cell phone market.  They try, but it never seems to hit critical mass.  Yes, it seems that it is possible to generate small pockets of gadget lust within the industry, but no single manufacturer has come close to producing a product that dominates the market like the iPod has done.

And no, before you ask, being surrounded by gadgets doesn't make you immune to the power of gadget lust, although it does lessen its effects.  Whenever I find myself caught up in gadget lust I start thinking about how much desk space it’s gonna take and where I'm gonna find a power outlet to plug it in.  That usually brings me back down to earth ... for a while!

So, when was the last time you had a bout of gadget lust?  What was it that you bought?

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Topics: Hardware

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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