Wine prices and pillows

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I bought a new pillow.

A fancy one. It came in cool packaging, well designed and unlike other pillows on the market. Being who I am, I also looked online at reviews to help nudge me toward what I wanted to do (buy the pillow). Enough glowing reviews led me to drop $72 for this pillow, the most I’ve ever spent on one.

And last night I had a great night of sleep.

Of course I credit the pillow, because that’s what I want to believe in order to justify the insanely high price I paid for it.

I don’t want to credit the fact that I went to bed early, didn’t look at a computer screen, was coming off a huge day including an early AM flight from Denver and a private wine tasting, and enjoyed lots of water ahead of dozing off.

Nope. I’ll credit the pillow. Why? Because that was my investment.

As consumers, the story we tell ourselves to justify purchases is so important. It’s also why some wine brands are successful. When someone pops a $200 bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet they may be analyzing the grape juice a bit, but more so they are telling an internal narrative that helps justify the cost. They want it to work because it was their investment.

This is why blind tasting is so intriguing to so many people. Take out the knowledge of the brand and price. There! An even playing field! Expect for one stickler of a fact: we don’t actually drink wines blind.

Wine prices, pillow prices, car prices, furniture prices. It’s the same game. The price exists to signal to a particular set of individuals how they will feel after buying it. And we want it to work. And that, in the end, justifies the price the end consumer will pay. (Production-side costs are a different conversation. This one is only about end consumer pricing validation.)

Some people only drink $5 bottles of wine. And if it brings them pleasure then the low price is justified internally. (“Expensive wine is for suckers.”)

Some people only drink $100 bottles of wine. And if it brings them pleasure then the high price is justified internally. (“Cheap wine is for losers, and I’m no loser.”)

Would a $1000 pillow be worth the price? Of course, it would be. For if I was one with the means and the desires to have a $1000 pillow I would do what’s needed to justify the price in my internal narritive.

And a $1000 bottle of wine? Same thing.

Price and pillows. Dollars and wine. Same thing. It’s about emotional justification.

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