Copywriting psychology: Selling With Status
You can tap into the consumer’s desire for prestige, exclusivity, and social validation by applying certain principles of copywriting psychology. Using status to sell is an effective marketing strategy that luxury brands put to deadly use.
Status is one of the primal motivators of human behavior and in this article, we explore how you can use it to become a more persuasive copywriter today.
Understanding status as a psychological driver
The human desire for status is rooted in our innate need for social validation and recognition. However, it’s not just vanity. Higher status throughout history has translated to better access to wealth, power, and mating opportunities.
In simple terms, a higher status meant a better chance for survival.
It is a basic human instinct to strive for higher status within our social groups and to be seen as successful and respected by others. Oppositely, people strive to avoid humiliation at all costs and perceive emotional pain as deep as a physical one.
Humans are hardwired to pursue status gains and avoid status loss.
The impact of status on purchasing decisions
Consumers often associate certain products with social status. Status is tightly related to the principle of scarcity. What is abundant cannot be as expensive as that which is rare.
For example, diamonds have been a status symbol of strength, wealth, and prestige since Ancient times. Part of the reason is their limited supply. Getting them is hard. Thus, having one shows you are a person of affluence.
However, status does not always mean prestigious. More often, it communicates a person’s identity and beliefs about themself and their role in the world.
A Harley motorbike represents a free rebel spirit. Nike shoes represent athleticism. A Toyota represents utility and practicality.
Brands that successfully tap into the desire for status can differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a loyal customer base. All of the most famous brands sell identities, not products.
Consumers regularly choose products that align with their social identity, even if they are not necessarily the most practical or cost-effective option. People become willing to pay a premium price for a product that increases their perceived desired status.
Understanding social proof as part of status
Consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they perceive it as being popular and highly regarded by others in their social group. This effect is achieved through personal recommendations, celebrity endorsements, or social media influencers.
Endorsements and testimonials from well-known or respected individuals can be powerful tools for selling with status. Celebrity endorsements, for example, can instantly increase a product’s prestige and appeal. Customer testimonials can also be used to demonstrate the popularity of a product and build social proof.
Diamonds - a symbol of love and beauty
Harry Winston, one of the biggest diamond collectors in American history, used to hire models to exhibit the jewelry pieces of his collection. The combination of female beauty and dazzling gems attracted huge media attention.
Marilyn Monroe illustrates the status of diamonds best: “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. Today, diamond engagement rings are a universal status symbol of love, affection, and an unbreakable bond.
Cigarettes - a symbol of masculinity?
Marlboro’s marketing campaigns from the 20th century promoted their cigarettes as a status symbol of masculinity. Real men – cowboys, mechanics, sailors, doctors – all smoked Marlboro cigarettes. The success of their campaigns is still studied in marketing books today.
Using Status in Copywriting
If you already understand the role of status in driving behavior, your job is halfway done. As a copywriter, you need to channel the desire for status and connect it with your product or service. Here are a few ways to do that.
Everything you do as a copywriter revolves around words. Feelings of prestige and exclusivity come with their own set of vocabulary. Words such as: “luxury”, “premium”, “elite”, “limited edition”, and “collector’s edition” become your best friends. You can check this list of power words for further inspiration.
Apple always does a great job of letting people know all the features that non-Apple users miss out on. Their products are unique and they love to show that. Highlight the uniqueness of your offer.
Leverage Social Proof
The power of social proof works best when you can share the testimonials of someone who is already recognized as an expert in your field.
If a random person says Nike produces the best football shoes, that is one opinion.
If Messi or Ronald says it, that’s a marketing headline.
Create Scarcity and Urgency
True luxury is exclusive. Rare items are in limited supply. Only a small minority of people can possess them. Scarcity and urgency can be natural, like the concert tickets to a famous band selling out within minutes.
But they can also be created to strengthen the feeling of exclusivity and status. Limited editions are an artificial way to fix the supply of a product and let the demand for them increase over time.
You wouldn’t sell a Honda and a Bugatti in the same way. They correspond to different needs and identities. Most people look for Hondas when they need affordable and reliable transportation. Bugattis, on the other hand, solve people’s need for prestige, status, and exclusivity.
A big part of wanting to own one is the knowledge that only a few other people can do so. It shows off your access to resources and acts as a statement of your elite group identity.
To use status in copywriting, shift the conversation from benefits and features to identities. People like you, buy products like these.
Recap on Status in Copywriting
Status is a powerful motivator in human behavior and a useful tool for copywriters to persuade consumers to make a purchase.
By tapping into consumers’ desires for prestige, exclusivity, and social validation, brands can differentiate themselves from their competitors and build a loyal customer base.
Consumers are often willing to pay a premium price for a product that aligns with their desired status. Brands can use social proof, scarcity and urgency, and luxury language to increase their status appeal.
Additionally, highlighting the uniqueness of the product and leveraging endorsements from experts can help create a stronger connection between the product and the desired status.