Cleaning out the closet

When I was six, I received the coolest Christmas present ever – a creepy “science assembly project” called The Visible Man.   I was legitimately excited about it and always promised that I would put it together – but for some reason I never opened the box.  It stayed in my closet for years alongside boxes of old clothes and a broken microscope – and my mom might still have it stashed somewhere for all I know.  (Maybe I’ll pass it on to Caroline, so she can keep it in her closet for the next 35 years).

We all own crap like this.  Increasingly we’re selling it on eBay.  According to a New York Times article about the Significant Objects Project, sellers who create a narrative around these basically worthless items can dramatically increase the amount of money they receive from buyers – in an experiment, objects with an accompanying narrative sold for as much as 2,700 times their value.

Are there implications here for marketers – people who aren’t selling junk from the garage but instead are selling mass market products to consumers?