Most of our purchases are mindless and habit-based rather than mindful and considered. Therefore, branded products companies know that once they've got us habitually buying their products, well, they've got us.
In prior posts here at Casual Kitchen, I've talked about how easy it is for consumers to settle into buying a specific brand of each of the various products they use.
And it's totally okay to settle into some habitual purchasing decisions. Honestly, if we spent time deeply considering every purchase, we'd never make it out of the grocery store. I'd still be in there deciding between 45 brands of shampoo. And I don't even have that much hair.
The problem is, if we are too habit-based, the company behind that brand can easily take advantage of us. They can put in stealth price hikes that we don't notice. They can gradually raise the price of their brand until it reaches a premium far beyond what it's really worth. Heck, they can stop making their product entirely and choose to outsource that product to the same factory that makes the nearly identical generic brand sitting next to it on the store shelf.
Over the course of a lifetime, a pattern of habitual and passive purchasing decisions will needlessly separate us from thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of our hard-earned dollars. That's why from time to time it's an excellent practice to reconsider the value of each of the brands you buy. An empowered consumer will occasionally look over the prices of competing products--including store brands--and ask: does the brand I normally buy provide value to me commensurate with any premium in price?
If it doesn't, you know exactly what to do: Drop that brand instantly.
One final thought: the laughably pretentious assumption that certain brands "say something about us" is just another form of habituation. It is also, coincidentally, deeply in the interests of consumer products companies for us to think this way.
After all, being pretentious can be habit-forming too.
Next up: Value and Discounting Biases
How can I support Casual Kitchen?
If you enjoy reading Casual Kitchen, tell a friend and spread the word! You can also support me by purchasing items from Amazon.com via links on this site, or by linking to me or subscribing to my RSS feed. Finally, you can consider submitting this article, or any other article you particularly enjoyed here, to bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, digg or stumbleupon. Thank you for your support!