George Santayana, in his book "Character and Opinion in the United States", said this about our apparent love of money:
"The American talks about money, because that is the symbol and measure he has at hand for success, intelligence, and power; but as to money itself he makes, loses, spends, and gives it away with a very light heart."
I believe he's right. Why else would we be so happy to part with our money for shoes with red soles, or $98 for a t-shirt that says "Prada" on a small label inside. Obviously there are things more important than money.
Every time we pull out our smart phones to check Facebook before we go home, we're voting for social connection rather than money. When we buy a Grande Macchiato and slowly sip it with our Maple Oat Scone, we've decided that being there is more important than the money.
For the most part, we in this country have our needs pretty well attended to. We spend our money on experiences and other benefits.
In marketing, the sense of that often escapes us. We tend to sell our age-defying makeup perhaps a bit too hard, and often other things not hard enough. When we spend a lot of money to buy a top-shelf vodka or tequila, are we really buying vodka or tequila? Or are we, to some extent, buying a badge to let everyone know who we are and what we value?
We all say "money isn't everything" but we worry about money constantly. And when we get it, we don't always bank it. We often reward ourselves or make ourselves prettier, or let people know that we know what's best.
When we go to Las Vegas, we come back with clothes and accessories we'll never wear at home. Our "Welcome to San Diego" pillows will never hit the living room couch.
The psychology of persuasion is fascinating. Marketers who understand it have a chance of becoming rich and famous.