It’s ironic to know as the adoption rate for smartphones and tablets increases, we have renew our interest in the medium that was once being brushed aside as non-essential in the wave of digital evolution. We can take heart from this, because writing on paper is something close to our heart. It seems very natural to pick up a pen, and scribble your ideas, your random thoughts, your drawings. Maybe the next generation that grows up surrounded by smartphones and tablets have a different story to tell, but even then it will take time.
More Than Just The Product
It’s no coincidence that the notebook market is booming. Moleskine is going public. The emergence of other brands fighting for a piece of the pie in this niche highlighted the potential for further growth. As we becomes more affluent, our consumption habits shift.
And this is where we as human, react emotionally rather than just focusing on functional benefits. We need a place to store our thoughts, craft our work. This can be done anywhere. Your smartphone would be a very handy device for doing that. Any blank notebook would do the job equally fine, afterall it’s supposed to be a place to unload our ideas in there.
We no longer just want to be seen carrying a common notebook to the meeting. We want the products we use to reflect our lifestyle, our values, our beliefs. The notebook we hold in our hands is no exception. That partly explains why people pay over the hill price for moleskine or similar brands writing material.
Why do we insist on selecting the best out of the market for items such as notebook? It’s intriguing to think we are suckered in to purchase something we can really do with much cheaper alternatives. Marketers built a story behind the brand. According to them, Moleskine has a long history, and the list of prominent names that had used this brand of notebook. We are buying into the history and tradition. We are buying into the brand promise of how a pristine and well-built book can facilitate our writing.
It’s not merely superficial. When we open up the moleskine, or any other notebook of its equivalent, we are instilled with the beliefs we can write with Murakami-esque prose. The list of illustrious writers touted to use this said products is impressive, and you want to be associated with them. The feeling of being in the same class with writers like Hemingway is an alluring thought in itself. These thoughts ensure that we willingly part with our money and spent the time convincing ourselves that the dollar spent is a very fair trade-off.
Moving beyond the intangible benefits, let’s go back to something more tangible, more real. The sturdy cover, the stitches that bind the book together, the smooth texture of the paper that welcomes your ink and the durability of the product that are made to last. They are all physical attributes that befits a product which is wonderfully constructed, in a marketplace where mediocre products are banished to the market and quality is an afterthought.
We seek products that are well designed. We longed for products we can really use for a long time and not to worry about them breaking down. The feeling of using a product you can trust can be very liberating. I trust the moleskine not to break up even soaking in the rain. It has passed the test, though the paper is crumple up now and soften up with time. The ink and writing inside has been smudged, but it’s still very legible. I’m not sure if other brands of notebook will hold up as well, but after enduring an episode of rain-soaked notebook that really rendered the content in-legible for quite some time, I’m happy that all the content are still intact and usable.
Branding Is A Powerful Weapon
What makes brands like Moleskine really stands out is not the actual product. Yes, it’s a quality product that’s really good to use. What’s impressive is how the product is built around the brand story. The story of having a deep tradition, accepting no compromise to achieve the best product. People want to buy into something they can believe in, especially in the age where the reality is blurred. A physical product, one we can hold, touch, sniff the pages, is back in demand in the digital revolution era. A product back in trend thanks to its quality. More importantly, it illustrates how powerful the concept of branding can be.