Everyday Cheapskate: Don't get tricked into buying goods
It's a jungle out there, folks. And that jungle is getting wilder by the day, according to a recent edition of one of my favorite consumer publications, Bottom Line Secrets. Retailers are resorting to all kinds of stealth-like tactics to trick consumers into buying their products.
Take me back to better times. Please. Using a psychological principle that says our minds paint rosy pictures of the past to help us move through difficult times, nearly 35 percent of retail brands are now using nostalgia in their ads and packaging. Next time you're in the store, take a look at Pepsi, Doritos and Mountain Dew, suggests Bottom Line Secrets. Before you load your cart up with things that make you feel all warm and fuzzy because they make you feel nostalgic, stop! Ask yourself if you're trying to recreate the past, or you really want to spend your money on this product. Make a mental note of all the brands that are using this sales tactic.
Don't tell me they're sold out! No, they're not. But retailers are playing sneaky — making it difficult to locate certain products on their shelves, particularly those that have been advertised as great bargains. By hiding these bargains, it's likely you will ask a salesperson for help. When that person guides you to the product, you'll feel compelled to purchase it because that person was so kind to help. And chances are your newly discovered loyalty for the store will prompt you to buy a lot of other things, as well. The next time you can't locate a particular item, assume this "shortage" is by design. And if a salesperson assists you, don't feel obligated to buy the product.
How fresh is "fresh!"? Just because the beautifully arranged produce has drops of morning dew, don't assume that means those items are fresh. The typical supermarket apple has been off the tree and in cold storage for 14 months. By putting cut flowers at the doorway, retailers send a signal that the farm truck just unloaded the flowers and everything else of a produce nature. Of course, that's not true, but it sure makes us believe that it is.
And that chalkboard with hastily scribbled prices and specials? Usually it's preprinted to look like fresh chalk. And just because the seafood is displayed on crushed ice doesn't mean it hasn't been frozen for months. The ice makes us believe this must be today's catch, even though modern refrigeration doesn't need ice to keep seafood at the right temperature.
Here's the deal: Don't pay more for produce at a specialty health food store because you believe it just has to be fresher than your local supermarket. Not necessarily. But that retailer has done a great job getting you to pay more because you believe it is.
The tricks and traps that marketers us to separate us from our money only work if we put ourselves in a position to be manipulated.
Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more power we'll have to resist their ploys.
Email Mary Hunt at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.