Tuesday, January 02, 2018

'engineering dissatisfaction' using the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air (thanks Gary!) aka, marketing things you don't need, and can't afford, so GM execs got rich

(click on for full size, and to see that they spelled Chevys - Chevies)

Planned obsolescence took a step further decades later during the Cold War, when businesses went after marketing techniques deeply rooted in human psychology.

Big businesses decided they needed to 'reboot the credibility of consumerism in the minds of the consumer' after they realized the risk that came with shoppers knowing that what they were buying would eventually break.

By the 1950s, the CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan Jr. found a way to upgrade a model of a car by making changes 'so novel and attractive' that it would create an 'amount of dissatisfaction with the past models as compared to the new one' - meaning buyers wouldn't wait for it to stop working to want a new one, implanting in the buyer's mind the idea that something better was coming soon - Brook Stevens described as : 'instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner.'

The man at the heart of Sloan's project, Tom Matano, who was in charge of 'engineering dissatisfaction' using the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.  'Tom points to the brilliant blue sheen reflecting the sky. "That color was derived from nail varnish. The car was to be an accessory, matching your new coat or handbag,"' he told Peretti.

The car would also come with a catalog, showing customers what the upgrade model would like, available in just six months' time.'
 'The catalog offered all the upgradeable features of the forthcoming car that one's current car lacked: a slightly better radio; different upholstery patterns; a more luxurious-looking steering wheel and shift stick.

'The object was that, at the very moment somebody bought a Chevrolet, they were made instantly aware there was a better one coming, which would make the new car obsolete.'

The car industry switched its focus from performance and reliability, to aesthetics and cosmetic changes, successfully turning obsolescence into a 'nagging kernel of doubt that the clock is always ticking on the new thing we have just bought.'

and if that didn't work, they also used the "keeping up with the Joneses" trick


  1. What is that lady in the yellow dress doing?

    1. cheerleading moves?
      good question!