According to this theory, cool is a zero sum game, in which cool exists only in comparison with things considered less cool. Illustrated in the book The Rebel Sell, cool is created out of a need for status and distinction. This creates a situation analogous to an arms race, in which cool is perpetuated by a collective action problem in society.
According to this theory, cool is a real, but unknowable property. Cool, like "Good", is a property that exists, but can only be sought after.New Yorker article, "The Coolhunt", cool is given three characteristics:In the
|“||[Cool is] a heavily manipulative corporate ethos.||”|
|“||Over the past decade, young black men in American inner cities have been the market most aggressively mined by brandmasters as a source of borrowed `meaning` and identity...The truth is that the `got to be cool` rhetoric of the global brands is, more often than not, an indirect way of saying `got to be black.`||”|
According to this theory, cool can be exploited as a manufactured and empty idea imposed on the culture at large through a top-down process by the "Merchants of Cool". An artificial cycle of "cooling" and "uncooling" creates false needs in consumers, and stimulates the economy. "Cool has become the central ideology of consumer capitalism". Supporters of this theory avoid the pursuit of cool.
The concept of cool was used in this way to market menthol cigarettes to African Americans in the 1960s. In 2004 over 70% of African American smokers preferred menthol cigarettes, compared with 30% of white smokers. This unique social phenomenon was principally occasioned by the tobacco industry`s manipulation of the burgeoning black, urban, segregated, consumer market in cities at that time.According to Fast Company some large companies have started `outsourcing cool.` They are paying other "smaller, more-limber, closer-to-the-ground outsider" companies to help them keep up with customers` rapidly changing tastes and demands.