I am a man. This is not a statement designed to declare my status in a ‘Banging my chest and doing a Tarzan type battle cry’ way. It merely serves to illustrate my approach to today’s post subject, Shopping. Here is my basic approach to shopping for a specific item.
- Research online with the top 2 or 3 local stores (Online is a no-no for me, I want that sucker in my hand when I fork out cash for it.). They are the ones likely to have the item at the cheapest price.
- Go to the store.
- Find the item I have selected and pay for it if available, if not go to the next store and repeat from 1.
- Take home and swear for a couple of hours while unpacking all the polystyrene and trying to understand the instructions. These are probably a third translation from the original Ogham or Latin through Chinese and Taiwanese. Finally,use it.
The food shop is a list of regular items from the same store. I know how much I pay for items I buy regularly and for variations I know how much I am willing to pay.
Of late in England and Europe generally we are in a state called Austerity. This means the cost of living goes through the roof and unemployment is very high. The various High Street stores and food supermarkets have now found a way of dealing with this. They supply various price layers. I will take as an example AS*A (Or for Americans W*l*art). In both food and other items they have the usual big name brands at big prices, Then they have the ‘normal’ range pitched in the midrange price wise. Finally they have the ‘Value’ range priced at very low prices but you should bear in mind the adage ‘You get what you pay for.’.
To illustrate this idea consider Baked Beans, not sure what that is in ‘Merican but it is basically Haricot beans in tomato sauce.
Full price is typified by the market leader Heinz. Full bodied beans make up 90% of the space in the tin with enough sauce to make them tasty and pleasing. Normal range has less beans and more sauce but is still an acceptable alternative. Value consists of 50% bean/sauce ratio and the beans are nowhere near the quality.
I bought a cheap coffee maker today and was presented with expensive all singing, all dancing machines which you can use (Via expensive cartridges!) to make all kinds of coffee. Mid range was a machine which made a basic cup via strong powdered coffee but was manufactured by a big name. The one I bought was a basic machine which makes a similar cup in a similar way. There was obviously a quality thing but the law imposes standards and quality control. It may not last as long but it will do the job and is guaranteed for a year.
I am indebted to Terry Pratchett for an explanation of this phenomenon. He postulated that a rich man buys a pair of boots and they are expensive. However, they last for decades. In the same time period a poor man buys boots which are very cheap but only last for 6 months. Therefore the poor man spends 20 or30 times what the rich man does in a lifetime and is rarely well shod. That is the real bonus for the stores. The most money comes from the poorer people who buy cheap, at least as far as clothing, electronics and appliances are concerned, but have to keep buying again and again. Boots are only guaranteed for 3 months these days.
Lately the edges are blurring as far as this arrangement is concerned. The snobbery factor played a part. Those who were able to afford the best looked down on those who bought midrange. They in turn looked down on those who bought value. However, austerity has affected this. Wages have decreased so the middle class employees have started to realise that there are cheaper alternatives with only minimal difference in quality. The lower paid workers have also realised that, if a large family is concerned, some value items can offer quantity if not quality. They also have a new choice. Ironically those on benefits can be quite well off (I will not even begin to discuss this state of affairs.) and can afford to buy quality while the money lasts whilst also buying Value when they are short.
As I said this is a male perspective. A woman’s buying criteria may be quite different and the route they take through a store totally incomprehensible to a mere man.
When I bought my coffee machine it illustrated my approach nicely, 15 minutes online, 10 minutes in Store, 5 minutes home and 20 minutes setting it up (Didn’t really need instructions, they all work in much the same way and there is only an on/off switch. Less than an hour and I was drinking a lovely coffee.