Hurting the Frugal Consumer with a Narrative

One modest follow-up thought on last week's post on how people now spend more on food in restaurants and bars than they do on food cooked at home.

It's interesting, isn't it, that the average American is supposedly struggling financially, yet somehow we can afford to eat out more than ever. I don't know what's behind this trend in restaurant spending, but I wonder if it's a symptom of us, as a culture, being increasingly unable to distinguish "discretionary" spending from "necessary" spending.

More importantly, if I were a company selling discretionary services or products, I'd be extraordinarily interested in figuring out ways to make them seem "necessary." As necessary as possible.

So, if I were, say, in charge of marketing at a major restaurant chain, or if I worked for a company selling prepared food, I'd definitely want to encourage the use of narratives like "healthy food costs too much... I might as well eat out" or "it takes way too much time to prepare food at home... it's far more convenient to pick up takeout instead." In this context, these narratives become ready-made justifications encouraging people to spend more. Not to mention, they'd help my company sell more, possibly much more.

So who are we supporting, exactly, when we consumers use these narratives... on ourselves?

Read Next: Consumers: Pay For Your Own Brainwashing! (Or Don't)

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