Triggered to Pay Extra

There's a new field of battle in the chess game between consumers vs the companies who sell to us. Have you noticed how easily consumers fall for words like:

Sustainable
Ethical
Green
Baby-Friendly
Chemical-Free

These words are magical. All you have to do is wave a few of them in front of consumers and they instantly say "Ooh, ooh! Can I pay extra?"

We're teaching a brand new generation of consumers to respond autonomically to any premium-priced product containing any of these words.

So what company then wouldn't use these words? Words are free! You can as many of them as you want, in any order, anywhere on the package, and you can trigger a meaningful percentage of consumers to pay more for product. Often significantly more.

This reminds me of the post I wrote years ago about a bar of extra ethical chocolate I received, which used a lot of these types of words, along with photos of smiling females meant to represent definitely-not-exploited members of a Bolivia-based cocoa harvest cooperative.

What was shallow and deeply cynical about this chocolate was that you could easily see from the label that most of the ingredients came from totally different countries from where this cooperative was, and worse, all the high-value, highly profitable work--the making of the chocolate itself--was done in Switzerland, thousands of miles away. For all we know the smiling, definitely-not-exploited laborer on the package could have been a stock photo.

With all this in mind, an empowered consumer therefore has to consider a few things. Such as:

1) If a company uses a word on a label, does that make it true?

2) What do these words really mean? ("Chemical-free" would be a good place to start.)

3) Are these words really any different from vacuous marketing words from prior generations, like "heart-healthy" or one of my personal favorites: "a good source of seven vitamins and minerals"?

4) Have you ever seen a product with marketing copy that said "Unsustainable" or "Unethical" or "Baby-Unfriendly"?

And finally:

5) What price premium are you willing to pay for words? Will you pay double? Triple? Quadruple? Where is your limit?

Readers, what do you think?


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1 comment:

marinela potor said...

In Europe, there are certain words (eco, bio etc.) that are actually legally binding. If they are on a product (they mostly come with a gvt. certified seal) they mean certain things. Bio for example means no pesticides, Demeter means grass-fed cows and no antibiotic treatments for chickens etc. If I know exactly what I get for a word, I am fine with paying extra (if that is important to me). However, you have to be careful. Let´s say you are in France. Then a "bio" tomato from Greece might be worse for the environment than a normal tomato from a French market.

I am pretty sure they banned language that suggested "healthy" on muesli bars full of sugar and carbs a few years ago.

Still, there are plenty of other words that are not legally protected. And companies love them! Sometimes, it doesn´t even have to be a word, a box with earthy and green coloring is enough to suggest: This is healthy ... now pay up. And a lot of people do.