Why is this interesting? - The Weight Edition
On luxury, perception, and heft
|Colin Nagy||Dec 10, 2020||8|
Colin here. We equate a lot of things with luxury: exquisitely designed products, perfectly manicured storefronts in tony parts of town, beautiful world-building through advertising in sophisticated magazines. It’s generally a game of quality and craftsmanship of materials combined with chest-puffing about heritage and provenance. But there are a few other sensory elements we might not notice that convey something is valuable and has gravitas.
One of them is weight. In our minds, heavy equals expensive. A sturdy timepiece from Rolex, or a beautiful sculpture. There seems to be a correlation between the heaviness of an object and its perceived value. In fact, in the early days of creating Beats headphones, which weren’t particularly expensive or luxurious, the brand was found to put weights within the device to make it seem heavier and thus worthy of a premium price.
A product designer did a teardown back in 2015, and explained the rationale:
One of the great things about the solo headphones is how substantial they feel. A little bit of weight makes the product feel solid, durable, and valuable. One way to do this cheaply is to make some components out of metal in order to add weight. In these headphones, 30% of the weight comes from four tiny metal parts that are there for the sole purpose of adding weight.
Why is this interesting?
Consumer electronics aren’t the only place this happens. In the premium credit card space, there’s been a rush to make the cards heavier, and made from different materials. The mental logic here is, again, heft equals luxury. Having something that lands with a substantial clink on the table is a subtle flex.
American Express was one of the first to use this strategy with their rare (and masterfully mysterious) Centurion Card, later also moving to metal with their Platinum card. Other cards followed suit: “The release of the Amex Black Card kicked off a trend amongst the more expensive premium credit cards... the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve™ Visa Infinite® Card and the Citi Prestige® Card. It has since branched out to well over a dozen metal credit cards.” In fact, the new X1 card actually has a video on their site where you can listen to a clip of the sound of the card hitting the table.
The heaviness trend has gone viral. It lends what used to be a sliver of plastic some physicality that has turned into a status symbol when it is thrown down on the table to settle a bill. Even if it is a gimmick or sleight of hand, our brains can’t seem to say no. (CJN)
Partner Post: WITI x Taika
We’re coffee obsessives at WITI and have tried a lot of hacks, like taking L-theanine with our morning brew to counter the jagged feeling of too many cups. Fortunately, Taika (read co-founder Michael’s MMD here) is a few steps ahead and ushering a new wave of innovation to the category. They make perfectly calibrated, delicious coffee blended with adaptogens to make you feel awake, aware, and inspired. Plus, they have deep coffee credentials; the co-founder, Kal Freese, is a two-time Finnish Barista Champion and Top 10 World Barista Champion. They are approaching their versions and iterations like technologists, which is also quite interesting, putting out versions of the coffee as they improve and experiment. We’re partial to the Macadamia Latte, but everything is delicious and recommended if you want a shot of crisp, focused energy. Buy a case for 15 percent off with the code FRIENDSOFWITI. (CJN)
Launch of the day:
Our friend Alban De Pury just launched Al’s, a nonalcoholic beer. It is one of a few interesting new entrants into the nondrinking category and we think he nailed the aesthetic. The brand is getting rid of the stigma of non-alc beer being terrible and a category afterthought. Plus he put a bunch of effort into getting the flavor right. Alban describes it as “A classic American brew, light, crisp, and refreshing, for people who enjoy drinking…without the alcohol.” We’re sold. Go try it. (CJN)
Tone is hard to grasp online. (CJN)
How a physics diagram was named after a penguin (CJN)
Airbnb goes out tomorrow, to the tune of $47 billion (CJN)
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)
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