Ye Olde Retro Heirloom Shoppe (Vintage Edition)

09 August 2008

heirloom retro vintage

I've been noticing lately, it seems that "heirloom" is popping up everywhere.

There are heirloom vegetables, of course. The tasty varieties of tomatoes your grandparents grew up on, instead of the red/orange globes that taste like nothing.

Then I noticed a store selling "heirloom sewing supplies".

Some dictionary defines "heirloom" as

A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations.

I read that, and I'm glad to see a resurgence of heirloominess. We surely go through "retro" ages, but that's more about fashion than values. Retro pants, retro hair, retro music.

Vintage seems like a half-way point between "retro" and "heirloom". Maybe. Or maybe "vintage" is just "retro" with a longer time-horizon. The 1960s are retro. The 1920s are vintage.

But "heirloom" points to a valued possession (or craft) that has been kept up with through the generations, like a spoken history. Something we've reflected upon and decide it's worthwhile to keep alive. Retro/vintage is more about looking back and cherry-picking something to bring back to life, if just for a little while.

"Ye Olde" on the other hand, is just kitsch. Anyone who owns a Ye Olde Ice Cream Shoppe needs to be locked in Ye Olde Town Stocks for a fortnight.

Retro = Quality = Brand

14 February 2007

branding marketing retro

jourdier_bottle.gifTonight, since my wife had a fever, I went wandering around the house in search of aspirin. Of course I find the huge freaking tub of ibuprofen we picked up at Target a while ago. But I'm looking for aspirin. I finally open the right cabinet and find that distinctive aspirin-bottle-shaped bottle of aspirin. While returning to her, I started thinking about the packaging of aspirin.

Aspirin is certainly a commodity. The entire contents of the bottle (250 tablets) probably cost someone a dime to manufacture in Malaysia. There's no licensing fee for the formula and it's not very exotic. At one point, you would've had to license the Aspirin trademark, but that's no longer the case. Sure, Bufferin(R) has overcome some technical issues, effectively creating a better mouse-trap. But that probably means it costs a nickel more to manufacture.

How do you differentiate your aspirin from everyone else's? By making people feel good about taking good ol' old-fashioned aspirin. Like your grandmother used to use take. Ultimately, aspirin is a pretty good pain reliever. Newer doesn't necessarily mean better. Just ask anyone who's now having to take Sudafed PE.

bronner.jpgAn adventurous aspirin marketer could go retro. The good old days remind us of hand-crafted quality. Our forefathers didn't put up with no guff or fancy crap. Back in their day, aspirin worked and was all they needed (nevermind that BC Powder upstart). Since the contents of the bottle cost a dime, spend a tad more on a bottle and labeling that reflects the good ol' days before these new-fangled pain relievers confused the scene.

grooming-lounge_1936_324373.jpegIt's worked for Doctor Bronner and their fantastic soap. It's worked for Crew and their pomades and tonics. Why not for aspirin? Tell a story of a simpler time! Pepperidge Farm remembers!

Of course, most folks would just refill the nifty bottle from the Mongo-Sized 50,000 tablet barrel they picked up at Costco.