The Cult of the Sticker

Being a football fan I have few fonder memories of my childhood than those centred on my treasured Panini sticker books. I avidly collected the faces of the football stars in my albums and couldn’t wait to invest in the next packet of stickers. When this year’s World Cup started I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing in my life. I was about to witness a footballing fiesta but I did not have a sticker album and I felt an overwhelming desire to get one.

Why Stickers?

I suppose the biggest question I was asking myself was why? Why is collecting stickers so compelling when you know deep down that it is a largely pointless exercise? I guess when I was younger the stickers were a great way of familiarising yourself with all of the players but now we have the internet for that and yet I still love the idea of those albums.

Stickers appeal to that portion of the human psyche that drives us to collect. There is something about collecting that satisfies the need to own, the desire to complete a set and the wish to belong. Collecting is also about the excitement of the chase. You can enjoy hunting down what you are missing and experience that sense of achievement when you find it. These are the reasons why so many people build collections of everything under the sun and why stickers on any subject attract both kids and those who never quite grew up.

Retail Promotions

The sticker phenomenon clearly hasn’t been lost on some of the big retailers either. Tesco in particular are fond of those promotions where you receive stickers when you spend a certain amount and can then redeem them for discounts on a range of products. They have brilliantly combined the attractions of collecting and stickers with those of saving money and it works. I know this because I have collected many a Tesco sticker!

Even though one side of my brain is totally aware that these things are a trap to ensure that you have a reason to shop in Tesco, the other side of me thinks that I have to get that food anyway so why not benefit from the deal? How good a deal I have really grabbed on these occasions I don’t know but I have at least confined myself to purchasing things that I genuinely need but I suspect that many consumers just buy the goods anyway because they can’t resist a bargain.

I am the proud owner of several pots and pans, a mountain of Pyrex dishes, a fair amount of cutlery and some great knives and a knife block. I have turned down the opportunity to add to my crockery collection because I don’t need any more but I suspect that the powers of resistance amongst other shoppers may not be so strong judging by the amount of people around the display each week.

A New Concept

As I write this I have had a great idea? Why don’t the supermarkets have sticker promotions for their household goods but make stickers that you keep featuring footballers or Star Wars or whatever else people like collecting. Now that would be a winning promotion!


Article by Sally Stacey