Packaging costs. Packaging costs you in higher prices and has an ecological impact on the planet. Yet, we continually fall prey to product packaging. Why? Companies pour millions of dollars into market research to develop packaging that will snag consumer dollars. They consult experts who understand the psychological profiles of different types of consumers and they design packaging that appeal to our subconscious needs and desires.
Take a look at the current products you purchase and ask yourself why you buy them. What is it about the product that you love? You do go for products that convey a sense of higher quality? Lower price or value? Does a particular brand of shaving cream make you feel cleaner, more appealing to the opposite sex?
Products are products, but the feelings we derive from using them come from our beliefs about them. And that’s where marketing companies do their tricks. They are very good at tying beliefs to products. Analyze commercials to determine what beliefs the commercial is tying to the product. Sometimes, the product itself is barely mentioned.
Another way companies get your dollar is to vary their product to appeal to different types of consumers. One manufacturer makes four different types of band-aid strips. One is for sporty types who need stretch in the bandage; one is water-proof for those who sweat or swim; another is ouchless for children; while the fourth was heavy duty for, I suppose, construction workers who get owies on the job. In this case, I agree that it’s super to have a bandage that works for your particular lifestyle.
On the other hand, consider the variety of tissues. There are tissues that are scented and unscented, with or without lotion or aloe vera, soft or thick. When I need to blow my nose, I’m not terribly picky about tissues. (Ok, so I’ve resorted to using an old grocery receipt in an emergency so I’m not the best judge…if nose-blowing can be considered an emergency.) Still, sometimes the variety of products can complicate the whole decision-making process when shopping.
Before you buy anything, study its true value. Think about how it makes you feel and why. Is it the packaging and marketing that causes you to believe in the product’s image? I have to admit that I have been a victim of product marketing. When my kids were younger, I chose to buy Jiffy peanut butter because I wanted to be a choosy mother who chose Jiff. In my defense, I did like its smooth texture better than Skippy which seemed drier to me, but over the years, I stayed brand loyal and it all began with that silly commercial that tapped my desire to be a good mother.
How you feel about yourself and your life should be determined by you—not be product packaging. Does a person who buys all generic items have less panache than someone who prides herself on buying name brands? Why? We fall into belief traps all the time and become pawns in the game of consumerism—and it helps companies get rich while we fork over the money only for a few fleeting moments of feeling better about ourselves. Be smart and define yourself.