Crap On A Bun Is Still A Bad Sandwich

 Hot Crap

A couple months ago I wrote an article asking if your money likes you.  In a transitive way, I was really asking if you like your money.  Of course you may think that you like your money, but your actions are often the final arbiter.

I’ll let you have the morsel for free, because today I want to spend some time talking about a group that I know who does love your money – Retailers.

Of course the most obvious – and scientific – example of retailers plotting ways to separate you from your dollar is the product placement in the grocery store.  Loss leaders, aisle caps, eye level, store layout (milk in the back) are not at all arbitrary.  Rather, they are focused fields of study and even hotly contested amongst product manufacturers.  For example, did you know that some beer and soft drink distributers will actually pay retailers for prime shelf space or special displays?

Just the other night, my wife was picking up supplies for the weekend and was looking for a particular brand of chips.  A standard size bag was well stocked and easy to find at eye level and sported a price of roughly $3.29.  On the bottom shelf a larger bag was priced 20 cents more but offered a lower unit or per ounce price.  However, at the far end of the aisle (not an end cap), on the bottom shelf was a huge family size bag nearly twice the size and priced only another 20 cents more.  And these were all the very same brand of chips, which says nothing of the innumerable combination of brands and flavors and quality and the variances of their individual packaging and placements.   

These placements were not random and I liken it to use-taxes.  If a consumer is lazy or in a rush and is willing to pay more, then we have a price point for that.  If the consumer is willing to bend at the knee to save, we have a price point for that, and if the consumer is willing to search the entire aisle for the best price, then we have a product to fit that need as well.

But what I find even more interesting is that the spectrum is really 2 dimensional.  Sure, as retailers we’ll offer like-kind products at differing prices for different price points – a bag of chips for every taste and budget – but we’ll also market goods ranging from indispensable to indefensible depending upon your eagerness to separate yourself from your dollar.

And so we arrive at my desired target.  The lead in to now was pure McGuffin to afford me the following opportunity.

Recently while on a flight, I perused the SkyMall magazine and found what must be the most asinine product known to mankind.  The underwater cell phone?!?

Now, for the record, I’m not a diver nor am I huge fan of the cell phone itself.  I was the last person in my circle of friends to take the plunge and I mostly consider myself a willful participant than full fledge advocate.  I consider it a necessary, if at times annoying, tether.

With that said, why in the name on of common sense would I ever want to make myself so helplessly available while enjoying the wonders of the world underwater?

Of course, I would not, but that others would is baffling to me and a boon to opportunistic marketers.  Mind boggling prices can be commanded not due to the complexities of the technology, but because the limited market that finds this a compelling product will have to have one, and at any price. 

 Photo By: Editor B

 Title lifted from Scott Van Pelt

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