calendar 26.03. 2018

Status symbols – lease or buy?

Three, two, one, none: what life is like without a car, a record collection and an office … In today’s world of leasing, streaming and sharing, the concept of value is a very large can of worms and one that I really don’t want to open in this column. But I will take a quick peek:

Back in the day when people still wore hats and watches on a chain, the three “must-haves” were: “My hat, my walking stick, my umbrella.” The things you surrounded yourself with shaped your identity. Even the doctor – visiting his patients with his leather doctor’s bag – did not have enough money to buy himself a new bag every year. In those days, buying yourself something meant first of all thinking carefully and then deciding on something that you could acquire and that would then become part and parcel of your image. Tempi passati.

Advertising: its influence on people

In the 90s, a German savings bank then used its own ironic version of the three “must-haves” “My house, my horse, my bank advisor” to remind us customers that, in our quest for status symbols, we need clever advice so we don’t bite off more than we can chew.
And then came eBay with “Three, two, one… mine”, making it clear that the hunter of today is somebody who follows changing impulses and can make a killing on eBay

The hunter of today follows changing impulses.

Nowadays, many people have even gone one step further:

they want to get rid of ballast and not surround themselves with things that have a questionable half-life. Yesterday, people bought themselves a stylish, desirable diesel car which has now fallen out of grace as a stinking polluter. Or they have just bought a smartphone without a contract on which the next generation of apps won’t run. So the answer is to lease a phone and sign a contract.

Company values cannot be leased

And companies? They lay down their identity and their corporate values in their Corporate Identity, but, apart from the company headquarters, it seldom has anything to do with representation, but with the brand core and associated communication to employees, customers and suppliers.

Nowadays, companies can lease almost anything. Not only their fleet of vehicles, but – depending on the company’s purpose – also the production machinery, or even an entire steelworks.

After all, to operate profitably, it may be better not to invest in plant and equipment but to lease them. Of course, you have to think carefully about whether the leased plant and equipment will really suit the market, the company’s strategy and the company’s values over the entire term of the lease.
I can still remember only too well how the telephone system we had leased only suited the “business purpose” of our office community for about a year: after that three of the office community had disappeared and the telephone system was out-of-date. The only thing we were left with was the lease payments.

Today I only have my home office. But if I needed an office workplace again from time to time, I would “share” it. Attractive workplaces are on offer in the district where I live: If you want, also with a post and telephone service that you can subscribe to and cancel on a monthly basis.

Car sharing – car as a status symbol

Car sharing not only has a great future but also a great past. 100 years ago you could already stand around where others were already standing and some spacious vehicle, for example a tram, arrived and took you with it.
Today’s car sharing providers will extend their range and offer different types of vehicles, all from the one source: you choose a roadster for your trip to the country, take the three antique chairs to the restorer in an estate car and hire a really stylish car – a status symbol – for a presentation at a customer’s so you can sweep into the underground car park where nobody sees you anymore. What a shame, you then think, a Smart would have been enough.

Anyway, for the car sharer, it is absolutely no problem to say “A car? I haven’t just got one, I’ve got lots of them!”

Media consumption

In times of digitisation, this is naturally also true of streaming: you don’t have a limited collection of records anymore, but listen to what you happen to like at a particular moment in your digital mediatheque. At the press of a button.

However, when you use Spotify, Pinterest, Netflix and & Co., the danger is that you will stay more and more in your own bubble and simply won’t want to try out something completely different. The expression “binge watching” underlines that you consume too much of the same thing and become kind of addicted to media.

And I also find it embarrassing when my mediatheque is playing music of which I neither know the title nor the artist. I would recommend a happy medium.

Continue to lease or search alternative?
The clock is ticking. Should you put more money in and extend the lease term or look for alternatives?

Hunters and gatherers

Anthropologically speaking, we have always been both hunters and gatherers.
For the hunter in us, the order of the day and way of life is to avoid unnecessary investments. You never know what might happen. However, it is still also important as gatherers to surround ourselves with a few things that we particularly want to occupy ourselves with or that we are particularly fond of.
I was given my fob watch and chain by my grandfather a long time ago. And I know stories he told me that are connected with that watch.

For years now, I have been looking for the right waistcoat so I can wear the watch in the proper way and it can see a bit of the world again and the new sharing economy.

Now I am buying a waistcoat and I don’t care what other people say when they see me with my watch and the waistcoat while I immerse myself in my grandfather’s time.

These are the thoughts I wanted to share with you.

Best wishes,
Your outsider