Business School Topics
This December, athlete Matteo Perucchini will take on the biggest challenge of his life. He will row solo across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the TALISKER Whisky Atlantic Challenge: the number one ocean endurance race and one of the toughest endurance events on the planet.
Following Perucchini’s every move will be the UWA Business School’s Assistant Professor Richard Gruner.
Perucchini’s solo journey will include self-reflection through journaling, a video diary and interviews with other rowers – all of which is designed to find out if he can escape the market and its constant pressure to make us buy more goods and services.
“Consumers have increasingly begun to ask the question of whether more simple lifestyles associated with lower levels of consumption/materialism makes them happier,” Asst/Professor Gruner explained.
“Is it possible to escape from the market and its ubiquitous (branding) efforts to make us buy more stuff? If so, what are the implications?”
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald several years ago, Asst/Professor Gruner argued that our real wealth comes not from how much or little we actually have, but how much we want.
“Perhaps it is time for us to question our perpetual product cravings, and accept that ‘old’, ‘used’, and even ‘broken’ are not dirty words,” Asst/Professor Gruner wrote.
“Wealth is relative to desire. It is not absolute. Every time we seek something we cannot afford, we grow poorer, regardless of how much money we have. And every time we stop our hunt for the new and feel satisfied with what we have, we can be counted as rich.
“Only 75 years ago we consumed half as much as we do today, and we were no less happy because of it.
“Perhaps it is time for us to distinguish between what we want, what companies tell us we need, and what we really need.”
To date, there has been very little research on the effect of isolation on our attitudes towards brands and consumption. Asst/Professor Gruner hopes his work with Perucchini will not only benefit consumers directly, but also help companies to create more value for their customers.
“To create customer-oriented innovations, organisations increasingly focus on the question of how to simplify and prune the various marketing mix elements to create value for customers. To do so, it is important to find out what really matters to customers,” Asst/Professor Gruner said.
Ultimately, Asst/Professor Gruner hopes that Perucchini’s experiences rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean will help us understand more about what really matters to consumers – as well as how marketers can give customers what they really want.
Follow Perucchini’s journey across the Atlantic Ocean here.