I've spent a lot of time recently discussing a terrific, if unnerving, piece of film-making entitled Hard Candy. Apart from the outstanding performances (Ellen Page is going to be a huge star) and inventive camera-work, it is notable for the fact that we have amassed many different interpretations of what is essentially a thriller. In common with all the best movies, the script hints but doesn't lead you by the hand on minor plot-points like motivation and denouement.
Why am I telling you this? Well, it's prompted by Hugh's very interesting post in which he asserts that "If people like buying your product, it's because its story helps fill in the narrative gaps in their own lives."
It's a potent thought that reminded me of one credited to a business acquaintance, customer service specialist Nigel May Barlow whom I met a couple of years ago, when we were separately working for the same client. Where others justifiably talk of aiming to be remarkable, he deliberately chooses the word legendary because he asserts that the best customer service is that which is talked about; that which creates a legend or, in Hugh's terms, fills a narrative gap.
My take on this is that it is possible for the same product to fill different people's narrative gaps in different ways. Where traditional product market space diagrams illustrate segmentation on the basis of meeting customer needs with specific product attributes (I seem to recall it was usually a toss up betwen toothpaste's whitening power and breath-freshening capabilities), we could now be entering the realms of emotional or psychological segmentation. This would, in fact, not be segmentation at all, but an holistic approach along the lines of David Wolfe's Firms of Endearment. It's not the theoretical targetting of defined segments with over-researched products/services, but the creation of legendary offers that impassion jaded twenty-first century citizens seeking self-actualisation.