“Why do we buy the things we buy?” Asks David Sax, author of The Revenge of Analog and expert on consumer behavior. This week in Vox he provides the answer: “as someone who has been looking at consumer trends and the forces that shape them over much of the past decade, when you step back and try to understand trends, you see that nearly all trends, and the buying that fuels them, are based in emotion.”
He unpacks the rise of the independent bookstore to support this claim: “Just a few years ago, experts were unanimous in their belief that books and bookstores were certain to disappear. Articles heralded the end of the independent bookstore as Amazon continued its explosive growth, Borders went bankrupt, and e-book sales gained ground … based on all measures of logic, their predictions were perfectly sensible.” But instead e-book sales plateaued, sales of books grew, more independent bookstores opened.
Why? “It wasn’t economics or any specific industry dynamic. It was the emotion of the consumer … at a time when few of us dare to go anywhere without a smartphone, books tapped into a growing desire among many consumers for a sense of physicality and the measured pace it commands.”
In talks, as in this article, Sax explores the anthropological importance of analog experiences, helping any consumer-facing company (especially those with a strong digital focus) to create better, more meaningful customer experiences.