A General Theory of Coolness

1 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017 Last revised: 10 Nov 2021

See all articles by Lalin Anik

Lalin Anik

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Johnny Miles

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Ryan Hauser

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

Coolness is a quality that is widely desired but not widely understood. While many brands seek to establish themselves as “cool,” few have a clear idea of how to get there. In this technical note, we present a general framework for coolness that can be used by consumers and managers alike to better understand how to create an air of cool around themselves, their brand, or their products.Our framework rests on four traits: autonomy, authenticity, attitude, and association, and on the interplay between them. Using this framework, we answer questions such as, "What makes something cool?," "What do cool brands do differently?," and "How can something cool become uncool?" Drawing on the literature surrounding autonomy, identity, norms, and impression formation, as well as real-world examples of best practices and common pitfalls, the note seeks to help students navigate the ambiguous world of coolness.This note is appropriate for use both in a first-year marketing course as well as a higher-level elective with MBAs and executives. It would be most impactful if taught along with the case "A Supreme Case of Coolness" (UVA-M-1006); the framework in this note could be applied to expand the discussion in that case.

Excerpt

UVA-M-0953

Rev. Jul. 22, 2020

A General Theory of Coolness

Brands have long attempted to be associated with cool trends. Both consumers and marketers seem ever to be in search of coolness. Coolness attracts attention. Coolness sells. By its nature, though, coolness is tough to define. It is ephemeral, elusive, and ever-evolving. People's concept of cool might best be encapsulated by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stuart's infamous phrase, “I know it when I see it.” In the marketplace, coolness excites consumers, steers purchase behaviors, and dictates trends.

But what exactly is coolness? Is it more than an attitude or style that is admired? And are there principles around coolness that may be studied or copied? This technical note attempts to present a general framework for understanding coolness. The note first tries to define coolness, then suggests that there are four As that cause a product, brand, or person to be cool: autonomy, authenticity, attitude, and association.

What Is Coolness?

. . .

Keywords: theory of cool, brand management, consumer behavior, autonomy, authenticity, attitude, association, marketing strategy

Suggested Citation

Anik, Lalin and Miles, Johnny and Hauser, Ryan, A General Theory of Coolness. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3027026 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3027026

Lalin Anik (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-243-7697 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty-research/directory/lalin-anik/

Johnny Miles

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Ryan Hauser

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
34
Abstract Views
2,162
PlumX Metrics