A Nudge Idea for Moleskine's Expired Diaries


My first encounter with the Moleskine brand was in November 2005. My first Moleskine was a diary, and I had no idea about the brand. Instead, the design and quality of the diary captured my attention, and I decided to buy it. In behavioural economics, this is called the “priming effect”. Initial cues recall conscious and subconscious information which we use to make a decision. And my decision went really well for 14 years.

Moleskine is a great brand with a great heritage, although it is a bit of an overpriced product. Each year they increase their prices a little bit more. Similar to Apple, when you get used to their eco-system, getting out of it makes you feel uncomfortable. Meanwhile, you don’t wish to spend a lot of money for their notebooks or diaries.

When I say diaries, they have a shelf life. You can’t sell a diary from 2017 in 2019. This makes it a waste product for many stores, including Moleskine stores. Yet people like me will buy them, but why?

When you buy an outdated or expired diary, you still buy a Moleskine notebook. Additionally, you have days on each page. The paper is the same, and the binding is the same. Everything is the same! Literally, there is no difference. Except for the psychology of buying a diary and using it like a notebook. At that moment, your brain malfunctions and doesn’t wish to use the diary like a notebook. Status quo bias triggers here, where a diary is used as a diary rather than as a notebook. Just a few numbers and letters on each page that are assigned to the page to correspond to a particular day? In a literal sense, a diary is a notebook which frames each page for a day.

How did I get over this? I framed the diary as a way of getting a great deal from Moleskine and recycling an expired diary that might have otherwise ended up in a recycling bin.

As our brain perceives it as a diary, it is uncomfortable for us to use it for a different function. Many people have told me, “Oh, that’s a diary so you can’t take notes in it.” Additionally, it may signal to others that I am skint or that I can’t afford to buy a decent Moleskine notebook. These thoughts may come into people’s minds due to availability heuristics. We love to recall our existing memory structure to analyse a present situation, and sometimes it doesn’t work well.

My suggestion for Moleskine is to re-brand expired diaries with a stamp. These expired diaries could have a stamp that says, “I am saving the world and recycling a diary as a notebook”. This may sound like a Moschino t-shirt that costs around £350. Yet it would be associated with a social norm for saving the planet and reducing waste.

Nowadays, people are more sensitive to reducing waste and recycling as much as possible. Stamping expired diaries as notebooks will change how they are perceived. The reality remains—it is a diary—but it is framed a recycled notebook. Moleskine can easily create a new social norm and motivate people to use their expired diaries as notebooks.

Will Moleskine do this? They can, instead of simply reducing the price of diaries by 50%, they could reduce by 30% and clear their stock. Keep in mind that as stock nears the end, the scarcity effect will kick-in, and the subjective value of the diaries will increase.

Photo Credit Moleskine