London is a gimmick….

You have to pay premium for London. It’s expensive. We know that. But why? That’s the ultimate question really. It goes beyond the fact that it’s the capital city; it’s all about the image. Many agree with the idea that ‘London is more a brand than it is a city’ as you can see on our Twitter poll here.

The Rest of the Country Exists

Most of the stereotypes which tourists outside the country have of the UK are predominantly London-based. Some of them are way off. I remember on a trip to the Grand Canyon when I was younger, we were on a bus with some other world-wonder seeking humans. We (by we I mean my parents because I was only 11 years old and awkward) were talking to a married couple, who happened to be American, and the topic of travelling (on our travel) came up. We asked them if they had ever been to the UK and they said not as of then. For some reason, it was on their wish list. I say ‘for some reason’ probably because I know what to expect from this place and they didn’t. Long story short, they thought Shakespeare was from London. In fact, they couldn’t even name a single city outside of London.

That’s quite shocking. But it makes London a very (if not, the only) popular destination in England. It means the stereotypes tourists had of London, even if they were somewhat accurate, are turned into money grabbing extortionate gimmicks.

Lost Culture?

Red buses, Big Ben, geezers, pubs, the underground, black cabs, phone boxes, the Royal Family, posh accents, etc. The list goes on. These are all gimmicks now.

I’m going to use the pub culture as an example because it’s something which is close to my heart and it makes me feel somewhat glad that I am not from London. It’s a big part of the London culture. You finish your 9 to 5 on a Friday and head straight to the pub. But come on, £6 for a pint? There’s probably some economic reasoning behind that too but personally I think the culture is being rinsed. People will buy that because “it’s the culture”. It’s not, it’s exploitation.

Let’s be honest, the Royal Family are no different to the Kardashians (other than they’re probably a bit less dramatic). Why are we so infatuated with their lives? They do nothing for us. They’re a tourist attraction, just like the Kardashians are a brand. They are one of the main reason’s tourists want to come here and so, to be fair, why not con them into buying tacky and false patriotic souvenirs.

Big Ben…

…surprisingly has not been sponsored by Rolex yet. London has lost its personal value and gained a business value. According to MoneyInc, London is in the top 5 most expensive cities in Europe. Tourism is a huge factor of that. It’s why I call it a ‘designer city’ because you’re paying premium for nothing special. You just think you are because “it’s London”. London city has become one big gimmick.

What do you think?

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“My Funny Valentine; Sweet Spending Valentine”

Valentine’s Day makes less sense than Christmas, especially if you’re already in a relationship. I mean, I guess if you’re single it’s a good chance to use them cringey Valentine pick-up lines you came up with, but that’s not the point here. The only real winner on Valentine’s Day are the brands. Valentine’s Day is not important, but most customers will be more than happy to pay £30 for a bunch of flowers which cost £12 on any other day of the year. I was conversing with my mum about this and she agreed. “You should be showing love everyday,” she said. But she still celebrates this day because she’s a passive consumer. I’m not. That’s why I’m writing this blog article. Active and passive consumers play different parts on this day.

Why?

What not to buy for Valentine's. Chocolate, roses... in fact, no presents at all. Photo taken from Highsnobiety
(Highsnobiety, 2017)

Most of you already know that it’s daylight robbery. But why do you still do it? Why do you pay double for a meal on Valentine’s Day instead of just going the day before or the day after? Are you just a fool for commercialism? Your everyday media (e.g. TV, Internet, Radio etc) make it seem absurd if you don’t take part in these “celebratory” holidays. Some may disagree with this because they think that it’s perfectly normal to not take part in these traditions, but I just want to make it clear I’m talking about the media here. But from the perspective of an active consumer, if the media didn’t think it’s illogical to take part, why do they always push it on to you? Why do they flood your timelines and your feeds with all things Valentine’s Day? They want expect you to be involved. They want your money.

You want your date/crush/partner to think you’re the “Bee’s Knees”? You empty your wallet on us and we’ll give you the “perfect gift for your Valentine”. This is what the big brands subtly communicate and what you so obliviously accept. It is that exact statement with a sprinkle of persuasion. That is essentially what Valentine’s Day is.

How the Brand Wins

I saw an advert on my timeline from Forbes, which stated “time to show your special someone how much you care.” I mean… you should be doing that anyway right? The only reason Valentine’s Day actually has value is because brands put it in their calendar, not because you put it in yours. An ideology is shaped to have you believe this day is important. Simple lines like “perfect gifts for your partner”, “celebrate your love”, “show how much you care”, and so on, have many consumers believing this day has significance. As soon as companies roll out these Valentine’s marketing campaigns, alarm bells start ringing in consumers brains. “Oh shoot it’s Valentine’s Day soon”. Boom. Presents bought. Tables booked. Cash splashed. “Ching Ching,” says the big man upstairs.

This day may hold significance for some people, but for most it’s unnecessary. I can remember when Burger King came up with the idea of the McWhopper as a sign of peace with McDonalds for World Peace Day. How often do you celebrate World Peace Day? For most, probably never. I mean you’re all aware but you don’t do anything for it. But that one campaign brought a ton of awareness towards it. The power of advertising at its finest. The reason Valentine’s is such a big deal is because it’s done on a much larger scale and for a much longer period of time. It’s been embedded into consumers minds that this is a day to mark down on your calendar’s.

Passive Consumer’s

A passive consumer won’t look past the words in front of them, or the images on their screen. They take it as it is. They don’t think deeper. They just agree with the brands telling them Valentine’s Day is important. In fact, they just agree with anything brands tell them, especially their favourite brands. They think of them as their friends. They influence who they are and the lifestyle they live, I guess just like friends do.

I know it sounds like it, but I’m not calling them idiots. I’m just saying it’s a lot easier to sell to a passive consumer than it is an active one. A passive consumer is already interested in buying. When advertising, brands don’t have to communicate how important Valentine’s Day is, they just act like it already is. To be quite frank, it’s very smart.

Active Consumer’s

They are aware of what the brands are trying to do. I’m not saying active consumers don’t do Valentine’s Day, because they do; but they have greater awareness of the choice they are making.

It’s 2019, most consumers fall into this category. Adverts are becoming a thing of the past and so convincing the Valentine’s Day meaning to active consumers is a challenge. Brands are having to go beyond the conventional advert. They’re doing it well, however, as I’m sure the jewellery stores and florists will tell you.

Might be worth your love, but…

Is it worth your dough? If you’re going to buy your partner chocolates, or flowers, or whatever cliché gift you’re thinking of; be smart and do it on any other day but the 14th of Feb. If you want your Valentine to be your wallets favourite brand, by all means give them what they want.

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