Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin? : Planet Money How much of a brand is real? How much is in our heads?

Episode 538: Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin?

Is A Stradivarius Just A Violin?

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A Stradivarius violin is pictured at the restoration and research laboratory of the Musee de la Musique in Paris, on December 3, 2009.

A trumpet is more or less a trumpet. A clarinet is a clarinet. But violin or a viola... they are different. More like living breathing things. Hand crafted from wood, from a tree. Every one is different. And, you know the story. Antonio Stradivari, was the master. Some say the greatest violin maker to ever live. The Stradivarius is one of the most powerful and expensive brands in the world.

And certainly, the guy made really nice instruments. But how nice exactly. This is a question that comes up all the time with all kinds of products: coffee, clothes, dish washing detergent, jeans and shoes. How much of a brand is real? And how much is in our heads?

Of course you could do a test with a stradivarius to answer this exact question. And In fact, in 2010, researchers did just that.

Music: Disclosure's "White Noise feat. (Aluna George)" Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.