This is an interesting discussion. That "Premium mediocre" manifesto had my attention for a minute but it sure is putting a lot on the concept of "fast casual."
Somewhere there's a brilliant article I read once about selling to ultra high net worth individuals. I wish I could find it now. Regardless, the general gist was that when dealing with truly rich people, you follow a "push" paradigm ("you should buy this one particular thing") rather than a "pull" paradigm ("we sell all sorts of wonderful things") while also understanding that you must never push and that you can wait years before the guy with the Ford truck and membership on 55 corporate boards calls you up and decides he wants to surprise his wife with $800k of diamonds for Christmas. The long and the short of it is you want to be "their guy" for when they want to spend money, and they want to be happy with you as much as they want to be happy with the product because psychologically, the experience of buying it has far more weight than the financial impact of buying it.
My brother in law is an electrician in an incredibly wealthy zip code. He's been paid $20k to put up christmas lights before. He'll get called to change lightbulbs when the kids are bored because the kids like him. Babysitters are cheaper but they need lightbulbs changed and the kids like him and clearly, it's not about the money.
You know that scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts isn't allowed to buy clothes on Rodeo Drive? It's bullshit. I spent an afternoon walking around Rodeo Drive (in cargo shorts and a graffiti collective t-shirt, no less!) looking at and trying on insanely expensive watches. Million dollar watches. Everyone was scrupulously kind and polite. oddly enough, the less exclusive the boutique, the brusquer the staff was - apparently if you've got the balls to walk into Richard Mille, they'll assume you have the good sense to not ghetto up the place too badly. Likewise, the worst experience I had shopping for Porsches was on the lot where it was their hottest car. Once I wandered over to Park Place, where the $40k Porsche was parked between a $1m MacLaren and a $190k Turbo S, I was treated with respect, kindness and affinity. Now - they had to have known that if I scruffed over to drive the cheapest car they had, I wasn't likely to buy it. But they also knew that I'd tell all my friends what a good time I had, and chances are good that I'll make more money as I get older. I'll be back. And I'll have a positive memory of my experiences there. They'll be "my guy."
The chickenshit watches you linked to (thanks for that) are all made in China and OEMed for whoever feels like slapping their label on them. I found a bunch of 'em earlier this year:
They have a resale value of zero. Thing of it is, nobody knows what watches cost anymore; Stauer and other brands exist because the general thought is that watches are priced between "I got it out of a vending machine" and "rolex which costs more than my car" so anything between those brackets is whatever you can sell them for. "Premium mediocre" -
I think it misses the point.
This is a Birkin.
Doesn't look like much, does it? It's got a Wikipedia article, though. Wednesday Martin spent two chapters talking about this bag in Primates of Park Avenue, though, because it's signaling at the highest. If you want one, you have to know someone at Hermes. More than that, you have to be on good terms with them. More than that, you might have to jump through hoops like checking boutiques up and down the Pacific Rim.
Or you can cut to the front of the line.
I don't live in that world. But I'm starting to understand it. The people who would pay that kind of money are dying to impress the people who don't have to pay that kind of money and those of us who don't live in that world truly don't matter. We see rich people and hand-made things and we look at the crude bits and don't even understand why someone would spend two thousand words on what makes a good fake Birkin.
So when we think "rich" we don't think "Breguet" we think "thing that looks like a Breguet" because we have no association with Breguet. We have no friends with associations with Breguet. $90 watch:
The guy who buys the $55k watch is impressing people who know what it costs. The guy who buys the $90 watch is, too. Neither are impressing each other. It's almost a form of skeuomorphism - the cheap thing must look like the expensive thing because the expensive thing is what drives society and culture but the cheap thing has as little to do with the expensive thing as a floppy icon has to do with saving your Google Drive document.
The guy with the Stauer is never going to own a single hand-made thing. He might have something passed down by his grandfather. The guy with the Patrimony owns mostly hand-made things. When he has enough money that he doesn't have to care about much, he has to be made to care.
Veggie Grill is "premium mediocre" if you were otherwise going to go to Taco Bell. Otherwise it's just fast casual. Thing is, handmade stuff is no longer necessarily crazy expensive bespoke bullshit. I've got a hand-tooled Kindle cover that cost me all of $70. Yeah, that's more than the Kindle cost but honestly, I like the cover better. I like it enough that when that Kindle finally dies I'll probably try and find notepaper about the right size.
The chickenshit watches are worthless because they're trying to sell handmade while also being mass-produced OEM china. That's not "premium mediocre" that's a lie and only the stupid are fooled.