I believe our economy is generated by human weakness. We see something we like and we “think” that we have to have it. But most importantly, companies are very good at convincing us that we “need” the products they sell. If it is a product they cannot easily convince us to buy, they stalk us. Have you noticed this, too? I first remember this happening to me right before the twins were born. I was looking for a rug for their room on West Elm’s website. There was one that I really liked and went to look at twice. For at least 6 weeks afterwards, that rug began appearing in sidebars on all of the websites I commonly frequent like Facebook, Google, etc. It totally freaked me out, but it made me start to notice what companies do to get us to buy their products.
Here are just a few of the tactics that I have noticed that companies use to get us to dish out the dough:
1) They put things on sale, often only a few weeks after the product hits the store. Human beings innately LOVE sales. Maybe you heard about JC Penney’s CEO being fired recently because he developed this unorthodox strategy to improve sales at this department store that has not done so well in the last decade. He decided that he would list items, from the beginning, at the cheapest possible price that the store could afford. JC Penney would not have sales events like other similar traditional retailers. Well, guess what? They had a terribly unprofitable year because, as I said before, people LOVE sales. This whole flopped strategy of theirs proved that we inherently want to find a good deal on a product. So, don’t be fooled. If a store you love is always marking their products way down, you should never buy them full price. They are charging way too much for them to begin with.
2) They send us a barrage of fliers and catalogs through snail mail and email. Do you ever feel like you are throwing away nearly everything that is in your mailbox on a daily basis? Do you ever open your email on a Monday morning to find 20 new messages, 17 of which are ads from companies from which you once bought a pair of hiking socks for your father-in-law or a Halloween costume for your dog? Unfortunately, more often than not, these ads actually do tempt us. I know when Tory Burch tells me that I have been invited to one of her very exclusive customer events, I feel just a tad bit special. I have decided that for the next year, I am unsubscribing to every email I receive from a business. In fine print at the very, VERY bottom of the emails they send us, you will find this option. If I do not know that Gap Kids is having a 40% off exclusive sale for cardholders, then I will never know, and I will never go. Also, I am going back on www.catalogchoice.org. This site offers a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more. It is good for your bottom dollar and for the environment; of course, you will want to keep ones from which you really do want coupons. 🙂
3) The big brands always have and always will grab our attention. Did you know Pabst Blue Ribbon beer retails for around $44 a bottle in China? PBR is just about the cheapest, crappiest beer you can buy here, but it has been marketed to the Chinese as very exclusive, American ale. This may seem funny, but we often get sucked into buying products because we recognize a logo. In the grocery store, the generics that sit on the shelf next to the name brands are often made in the same facilities with the same ingredients by the same name brand companies, but they slap different labels on them. Don’t be fooled!
As far as brands of clothes go, this is a whole other ballgame. What guy does not prefer the short sleeve collared shirt with the little horse, whale, or alligator on it, to the one with no logo bought at Wal-Mart for $4.99, even though, the previously mentioned ones cost more like $79.99? What girl does not prefer a pair of designer sunglasses just because of the emblem stamped on the side? (Before you think I am putting myself on a pedestal, note that the two pairs I own are Gucci and Tory Burch.)
We love brands because they tell the world that we are successful.
Of course, there are many other approaches that companies use to suck us in. These are just some of the ones of which I am most aware, and the ones I plan actively to battle against over the next year.
Before signing off, I have to mention that while I was just reading about PBR in China, there was an ad for Anthropologie at the bottom of the page. Why? Well, because I went to their site two days ago to get a picture of the pants about which I wanted to blog. They are literally web stalking me now. If you had not noticed that this was happening to you, you surely will now. 😉
Please comment if there is a marketing strategy that seems to “getcha” every time.