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From Racked, some thoughts on the new brand marketing:

Then, just last week, I was riding the subway and I noticed an ad for a company called Capsule that described itself thusly: “A pharmacy where you’re more likely to hear ‘I love you’ than ‘next please.’” Now, like I said, I’m a sucker for a good “I love you.” But why on earth would I ever want my pharmacist to say it?

Did we used to talk about brands so much? Back in the day, before social media made everything chummy and gross? I don't think so. I don't remember feeling that whatever was missing in my life could or would need to be fulfilled by developing a relationship with my toilet paper, and now I'm supposed to care enough to friend it on Facebook. In return for friendship it might give me coupons, I guess. No sale.

So what gives? Why do companies think we’re into this stuff? It reminded me of something I read in consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow’s book, Decoding the New Consumer Mind: According to Yarrow, besides supplying us with the goods we need, shopping also fulfills an important social need. Since humans first began gathering, we’ve gone to the marketplace to connect with others. But now that many of us are shopping online — alone, right from our couch — we’re missing out on that sense of human connection. Which is why, perhaps, brands have found some success appealing to our hearts.

My heart says barf. I can't even shop at Aveda stores anymore, because somebody always wants to give me a neck massage and serve me tea. I imagine a Higher Up thought this offer would serve as a meaningful bonding gesture between sales professional and "guest," but it vaults right over five or six of my personal spatial boundary issues. I'm able to chitchat with a stranger when necessary during a random transactional experience, but the last time I went in there, after the third employee tried foisting this contextually inappropriate touching + beverage offer on me, I finally had to say "I really just want to buy something and leave." It actually made me long for the post office, where, at the very least, the staff remains surly and I am unwelcome.