By BRUCE DENNILL
Exclusivity. “The practice of excluding or not admitting other things.” Or, “Restriction to a particular person, group, or area.” So the opposite of woke, then. The opposite of #MeToo. Kind of apartheid-y, really.
But in marketing terms, exclusivity is a major selling point. Check your inbox. “Please find your exclusive invitation to…” is in the subject line or body of a sizeable proportion of those emails. Which would make sense if what was being offered was a summons to the last flight of the Concorde and you had to be assigned one of the 128 seats. It makes less sense if you’re being invited to the launch of the new branding for a range of canned beans – this is not a made-up example – where, you’d imagine, the product in question should, ideally, be distributed as widely as possible. And also, being privy to a change in the colour of the label from Pantone 13-4110 ‘Arctic Ice’ to Pantone 12-5406 ‘Opal Blue’ is, well, selectively scintillating.
There is also the phenomenon of exclusivity being the major reason for the price difference between game lodges and other establishments just a couple of kilometres apart. Standing on the patio of one, you can probably see the other. Relative remoteness is irrelevant. Traffic past the main entrances are the same because there’s only one road. Safari chic offers a limited array of décor options. Thatch is the roofing du jour. The staff, sourced from settlements in the surrounding area, are uniformly lovely.
But the advertisement for one venue includes the word ‘exclusive’ in both the glossy pamphlets and the CEO’s vision statement, which he or she will explain to you in superfluous detail over a cocktail at the bar of the hotel they’re in charge of. Which will cost twice as much – for the same gin and the same tonic – at the exclusive lodge.
Why does this work? Why do we think excluding and restricting is desirable? Because we want to feel special. And more specifically, we don’t want to risk missing out on the chance to feel special.
So we sometimes say yes to those invitations to the baked beans extravaganza, even though there is literally no point from a professional point of view, unless you are extraordinarily passionate about Pantone classifications. And we convince ourselves that the premium is worth paying at the lodge down the road from the one we went to last year because, in an age when Instagram and other social media are making armchair travel a full-time diversion, being a guest in a place visible from few armchairs (to extend the metaphor) somehow makes us worthy of greater admiration.
In terms of human nature and of the desire to feel successful, all of this makes a great deal of sense. But really, what are you going to do with all those beans now?