Chapter 11 This is Marketing

Aaradhya Tiwari
3 min readApr 11, 2021

Status, Dominance and Affiliation

We all live in a world where status plays a major role. Mostly, the irrational decisions that we take are the work of status roles.

You don’t buy an expensive car thinking that it has a good mileage, speed etc. Status makes you buy that. “People like us do things like this”

The guy from my company who earns a little less than me bought a similar model so I should buy a model above it. That’s how status comes in the picture and all irrational thoughts become rational to the concerned person.

Status roles are the most obvious yet hidden forces that drives us all. They are present in the human culture more than we realize.

We might feel that now the world has changed and everybody sees each other as equals but status is different from hierarchy. Status doesn’t see money, looks, talents or skills. It’s very relative!

Status persists everywhere and we tend to accept it ourselves. We work hard to sometimes maintain our status roles or to move up and down in the status grid.

Status drives change by instilling a desire, a perceived option, a choice which either helps or undermines our future. You either work to protect it or change it. Everything you do is driven by status.

Effective Marketers make use of these status roles to make change happen and develop a culture. Change is channelized by understanding the status roles and working around them to make sure that people fulfil their status desires and the change happens as well.

People have the choice to either accept or turn down an idea or opportunity that a marketer comes up with that challenges their status roles. If we accept, our status roles might be jeopardized and if we don’t we would have to live with that tension that we walked away.

If you see yourself in one status role, you might feel the urge to either maintain or fight for that role or strive to change that role (maybe up or down).

Status takes up many forms. It’s mostly in the eyes of the beholder. It’s how you see yourself and how others see you. Status roles only work if the person cares about them and shame kills our entire narrative about status roles.

Our status roles change in different situations.

A person who is the manager of a hotel might have a high status among his employees but his status lowers down in front of a police officer if he’s caught for jumping the red light.

A geography teacher’s status is higher among her students but as soon as she enters the staff room her status drops down in front of the teachers who have been teaching for 2 more years than her.

People are very aware of their relative status and they seek to change their status based on many factor around them.

Not everyone believes in the same thing and everyone has different wants and as a marketer we have to accept that but it is also important that we realize that to bring change we have to make some assumptions on what other believe.

There are 2 categories in which people are separated, Affiliation and Dominion. All our narrative, opinions and beliefs are based on the group we belong to.

But what are we measuring here? What is it that the people I wish to serve want and what aspect are they thinking about? A dominance or an affiliation and why? A marketer needs to understand the narrative to which his audience will resonate with.

Our society depends primarily on affiliation. It’s a horizontal experience; Who’s with us ? We care about connections more than the product and it’s about being part of a group. More affiliation means everyone is involved and it depends on a cascade effect and cherishes a network.

There are people out there who prefer a winning and losing narrative over everything else and if you wish to serve them then you have to understand dominance.

Affiliation is about What work am I being offered? and Dominance questions Where do I want to work? They are 2 very different concepts.

The way you think or what you want doesn’t matter. If you seek to serve then you have to understand the worldview of your audience and their needs and wants. Their perspective and narrative is very different from yours and your individual worldview doesn’t matter.

So it is important to identify the people you wish to serve and define their status and if they look for affiliation or dominance. That’s how you will resonate with them and bring effective change.