Pay with Logic

I founded a brand called Lost Cat™, which embodies a never ending search for new ideas, understanding, & meaning. It embraces the unknown & encourages you to as well. This article details an experiment we ran from 11.02.2015–02.28.2016 called Pay With Logic.

The Pay With Logic option on was live from 11.02.2015–02.28.2016.

What happens when you let customers pay for items with logic instead of money? We hoped it would stimulate discussion around a deeper understanding on the concept of ownership & provide us with invaluable insight or new ideas. A free form text field allowed customers to submit a logical argument on why they had the right of possession to one of our products.

We grouped every argument into one of eight categories, examples shown below in descending value of quantity received. Each argument type correlates positively or negatively to if the sender followed our instructions. Lastly we analyzed which categories yielded accepted logical arguments. Oddly enough Irrelevant Personal Information yielded the most. This shows a loophole in the system where a submission can play to our emotions & be accepted solely due to pity.

The eight different categories we grouped every argument type into, in descending value of quantity received.
This graph correlates each Argument Type (color coordinated with above list) to Instruction Following & Acceptance.

An Unnecessarily Deeper Analysis of Argument Types

An Unnecessarily Deeper Analysis of Instruction Following

An Unnecessarily Deeper Analysis of Submission Acceptance

Final Thoughts

This was a pretty crazy idea. Just crazy enough to work! But it didn’t work at all. We only had a 6% Acceptance Rate from all of arguments we received, which suggests the majority of our time reading them was wasted. Furthermore, the accepted arguments did not help our business with invaluable insight or cutting-edge ideas. Here are excerpts from the four accepted responses:

“In this sweatshirt I will be a walking advertisement of this product line among young and fresh Ukrainian hipster movement.”

This was the most practical argument, which we classified as a Direct Business Proposition. We had yet to have any Ukrainian sales so we figured it made sense. Our web traffic in the area has doubled since then, but we still haven’t had any Ukrainian sales.

“I would share my sweater with everyone who wants to wear it… I will start a social experiment wherein you have to give the washed sweater to someone else after a day and so on and so on. It will be a loved sweater.”

This sounded like an interesting social experiment so we facilitated it. Every week we received an email from the new owner with a photo of them wearing it. We posted them up on a dedicated page of our website to keep track. The emails stopped after the fourth owner & we have no idea where the sweatshirt is now. We didn’t learn much either.

“I am lost. I was a doctor in the British Army and I have been discharged. I leave on 17 Dec 15 and I will no longer be an Army officer nor am I able to work as a doctor. I had an identity, I had a path but now I am very lost.”

“I’m bisexual and I was basically forced out of the closet during an argument with my grandmother. (I’m still not sure if she supports me or not, probably not, she’s voting for Trump) I was bullied all through 4th and 5th grade by a girl who turned out to be the child of two drug runners and producers, I was suicidal for most of middle school, I have maybe three friends…”

The acceptance of these arguments shows a loophole in the system where a submission can play to our emotions & be accepted solely due to pity. The idea was an interesting way to open a direct line of contact with our consumers, but its actual business value is marginal. Very few applicants followed instructions, so this obviously was a huge factor in the low Acceptance Rate. Maybe the instructions were too vague, but my take is that many mistook the idea as a way to get something for free instead of an alternative value exchange to money. Perhaps the system was also mislabeled, as it was not solely logic we wanted but the resulting insight & ideas. I believe some aspects of this idea could be salvageable if the system was better framed. Maybe we’ll revisit it someday.

This is an excerpt from my Lost Cat™ Annual Report 01. Download the full report for free at

Join our aimless journey: @lostcatnyc