Posted by Brian McCullough
I always GOT the character Milton from the movie Office Space. Sure, everyone thinks of him as a bit unhinged, but I think he’s actually quite rational. I mean, even if it’s just a stapler, it’s his stapler. It’s reliable, functional, never jams and it’s that color of red that reminds him of his boyhood Radio-Flyer. And yeah, it might seem a bit odd that he treats his stapler like a pet. But that’s only cause the workplace has stripped him of most of his humanity! In such a deadened, hopeless environment, aren’t we all likely to cling to the few tchotskis that remind us of a better world: our bobble head dolls; our pictures from when our kids were small and still liked us; our kitten calendars? So how could you dream of taking his stapler? How could you? You’ve already taken so much… taken his soul!
Well, it turns out there is academic research that explains Milton’s behavior. Well, maybe not explains, but furthers my claim that Milton’s not crazy. And he’s not alone.
Turns out there’s a subset of the population that fetishizes office tools.This news comes tucked into a research paper in Harvard Business Review that examines “aligning a product’s price with its perceived benefits.” The study focused on high-end staple maker Swingline in it’s efforts to “…assess how customers accord value to products and brands within a category.” Apparently, Swingline identified their dream demographic:
Swingline’s research identified a top segment of customers who were highly demanding and very much involved with paper tools. These “stapler aficionados” were willing, even eager, to pay a premium for a stapler that could handle constant heavy-duty use without ever breaking down.
This should make you think twice the next time you see someone staring longingly in the stapler aisle of Office Depot. At the very least, it should make you think twice about pilfering from the next cubicle over. No telling what these “stapler aficionado” sickos are capable of, if provoked.
Hat Tip again to Snakes and Ladders, second thing from them this week.
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