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How to charge 8x the price

This Moleskine notebook costs €13.

At your local grocery store, you can get a double pack of similarly looking, similarly equipped notebooks for €3.

Why would anyone pay 8 times the price for a Moleskine?

Because it’s not the notebook that they buy but this story that Moleskines come with:

“Moleskine is the legendary notebook used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin. This trusty, pocket-size travel companion held sketches, tones, stories and ideas before they were turned into famous images or pages of beloved books.”

A notebook is a simple tool. Yet, there’s a lot to say about it. We can speak about the size, the build quality, the material, the features, the variety, the price, and many more aspects …

Moleskine, the maker of that notebook, chose not to speak about any of those. Instead they told a story.

A story that turned a small Milanese publisher called “Modo e Modo” into a beloved worldwide brand. What started as a small independent book publisher now is exclusively devoted to making notebooks. The initial production was 5,000 copies of their notebooks. Today, the company has changed their name to “Moleskine” and runs signature stores in all major cities of the world. They sell millions of their notebooks each year.

For €13!

As I said, you can get a double pack of similar looking notebooks of similar build quality in our local grocery store for 3€. Again: Why on Earth would anyone pay 8x the price for a notebook? Isn’t it just a bundle of blank paper?

No, it’s not. 

Because it’s not just any notebook. It’s the same kind of notebook that creative geniuses like Picasso and Ernest Hemingway used to scribble down their ideas. At least that’s what the story suggests. And just think about what became of them … 

What Moleskine has achieved with this story is that this is not just a notebook, anymore. It’s a notebook for creative people. And if you are creative, too, then you need a notebook for creative people, right? It’s what all the great creatives used. Creatives can’t just buy a notebook from the supermarket. They must buy a notebook for creative people.

This is a real masterpiece in communication that achieves two things:

  1. Moleskine didn’t change what people wanted. They didn’t make customers want a more expensive notebook. They made customers see that they are creative. And so, essentially, if you are creative, you don’t even have a choice. You can only buy their notebook. Because that’s what creatives do. Creatives use notebooks for creatives. Moleskines help creatives get what they want: feel creative.
  2. So, essentially, they bring the future into the present. They make creatives visualise themselves becoming even more creative by using a Moleskine notebook. Just write your scribbles into a Moleskine and soon you’ll be becoming even more creative. And – who knows – even famous? This notebook makes creatives feel even more creative.

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