Monday, October 4, 2010

Money Saving Monday-Keeping More of Our Hard Earned Moolah in Our Pockets

Resisting Marketing Ploys

I believe that one way we can really save a lot of money is by educating ourselves about all the marketing schemes out there.  Millions and millions of dollars are spent every year trying to figure out ways to get more of our money.  As much as I could go on about this for hours, I will just go over a few of the countless Grocery and other marketing strategies that are out there:
  •  All the usual Grocery marketing strategies:  
    • Putting the basics that you might run into the store for, such as milk and eggs, at the back of the store so that you have to walk past lots of different products on your way there.
    • Playing a certain type of music in a store to make you feel comfortable and want to stay longer and spend more money.
    • Some grocery stores occasionally re-arrange their products so that you purposely won't be able to find what you are looking for, hoping that as a consequence you will look at more products and buy more, while trying to find what you came for.
    • Placing Children's cereal at their eye-level so that they will see it and want you to buy it.
    • Did you know that companies actually pay to have a certain spot on the shelves of grocery stores?  Companies with more money will have their products at your eye-level. 
    • Sales where items are 10/$10.  Often you do not have to buy 10 items to get them for $1 each.  I do not know of any stores in my area, besides gas stations and occasionally Walgreen's, were you actually have to buy the advertised number of items to get the sale price.  Ask someone at your own store how their sales work.  
    • Buy One, Get One Free sales.  Not all stores require you to actually buy both items.  Kroger stores give you each item for half price when they have a B1G1 free sale.  Many stores however, do charge you full price for the first item and the second item rings up as free.
    • Putting "sale" items in fliers.  Just because something is in your local store's sale flier does not mean that it is a good price, or even that it is on sale for that matter.  Become familiar with your area's usual prices, to know if something is really a good price. 
  • Coupons:  Coupons are a HUGE marketing strategy as you probably well know.  There is a good reason why companies offer coupons on products, they are hoping you will buy their product because you have a coupon for it.  Make sure you are not buying a product simply because you have a coupon for it.  Ask yourself:  "Would I be buying this product even if I didn't have a coupon for it?"  Even if something is only .25 or .50 after using a coupon, it really isn't saving you any money  if you don't need that product in the first place.  Make coupons work for you, instead of against you.
  • "Better Value" Prices:  
    • A lot of times, companies offer one item for say $1, then they will offer twice that amount for possibly only pennies more.  Sometimes this really is a great deal and can save you money, if you will use that additional amount of product.  But sometimes it is hard to resist that "better value" when you really don't need the additional amount.  One thing that immediately comes to mind is beverage prices at fast food places.  You can get a 20 oz. drink for $1.16 or a 32 oz drink for only $1.30.  Even though the larger size is a better value, if you really don't need 32 oz. of beverage, it is not saving you any money.  In fact it could potentially be hurting you, if you don't want to waste those extra 12 oz., so you end up consuming way more sugar and calories.
    • Pay attention to the price per ounce of bulk items at grocery stores.  It amazes me that at my local Wal-Mart it is very often a better value to buy items in a smaller size.  They are counting on the fact that you will just assume that since something is in a larger size, that you are getting a better value.  Make sure you look at how much it costs per ounce for items when you are comparing sizes.  I think that sometimes companies put larger sized amounts in quantities that make it more difficult to calculate in your head.  You may want to bring a calculator with you or check and see if the price-per ounce is listed on the shelf tag.
  • Outlet Malls:  I did not realize until a few months ago that outlet malls have their own whole set of marketing strategies:
    • Outlet Malls are usually placed in a location (like a small town) that requires almost everyone going there, to drive some distance.  They do this because it makes you think that you have an investment in that trip with the gas money and time that you used to drive there and back.  You will think that you at least need to spend so much money in order to be saving enough to get back your investment. 
    • Outlet Malls are counting on that you will buy stuff thinking that it is a good deal just because it is at an outlet mall.  Not everything at an outlet mall is a great price.
    • Sometimes the "original" price is inflated even higher for outlet malls, so you will think you are saving even more money, when in reality you really aren't.
  • Television Commercials:  Chances are if you turn on your television, you will be hit with a whole on-slaught of marketing strategies.  
    • Watching television with commercials drives me crazy (just ask my husband :)  I feel like I am wasting valuable minutes of my life and giving them away to a company when I watch commercials.  Sometimes I find my self zoning out while watching the endless commercials on television, and I feel like I have been being almost brain-washed into thinking I need this or that.   In a sense I really do feel like companies are trying to brain wash you with commercials.  If commercials influence you or your children, just turn off the television.  I know that is more easily said than done.  We pay $9 per month to get on-demand Netflix for our Wii.  We have access to tons of movies and television shows and we aren't wasting time by watching commercials, because there are none! (Trust me though, this can get addictive as well, because you can watch television shows from season beginning to end with no wait.)
    • When I think of television commercial marketing schemes, I always think of H&R Block.  If I didn't know any better, from watching commercials during tax time, I would think it was basically impossible for me to do my own income taxes and get back the amount that I am entitled to.  Of course, sometimes if you really don't have time, or have really complicated taxes, it may be in your best interest to take your taxes to a place that will prepare them for you.  I have started doing our taxes, and they are fairly complicated compared to some individual's, and it only takes me about 1-2 hours to prepare them start to finish, even without any tax software.  I guess that I am saving several hundred dollars every time I do our own taxes.  If you really don't know how to do your taxes, you really may be losing money by doing them yourself.  If you don't know much about taxes, it could save you money to buy some tax preparation software instead of doing them yourself.
  • A couple suggestions for avoiding marketing ploys:
    • Prepare a shopping list before you go to the grocery store.  It will be easier to know what you really need and help you avoid making impulse buys.
    • Ask yourself if you really need that item that you are considering buying.  Ask yourself when considering larger purchases:  WHY do I want this item?  Is it helping me achieve my financial goals?  If you really truly just want something for fun for yourself, then don't make yourself feel guilty for buying it.  It is no fun saving money, if you never get to enjoy it.  Just be aware of marketing, and don't let a company make you think you really want something when you don't.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully informative post. It is important to be wise and educated shoppers so we can avoid these marketing pitfalls.