THE FRUGAL NEXUS HAS MOVED

I have migrated from WordPress.com to a self-hosted WordPress.org site!  You can access it here.

frugalnexus.com

Advertisements

Quit Window Shopping

Let me sketch a scene out for you:

Bordem has struck your heart. Perhaps you are enjoying the company of your friends, maybe it’s a Tuesday and don’t have work or school.  The air conditioner is set at a cool setting of 6, the sun sits high in the sky as you look out the window.  You’ve had enough of binge watching The Office, you want to seize the day, you want to do something.  Something, anything.

You grab your keys, you get in the car and set your compass to the mall.

It passes as an activity, after all you have to put on clothes to do it. You park in parking lot which is essentially a large tarmac for the all the consumers.  You feel as if this place is now the new public square.  You shuffle through the large parking lot and open the glass doors, the blast of cool air welcomes you to the mall.

You start to walk around, you walk to your litany of stores and you spy signs, advertisements, stuff to influence you.

You go to Trendy Planet and do a couple laps.

Oh wowzers these shoes are like $15 off, I’d be clinically brain dead if I did not buy these!”. 

Now you’re walking around Trendy planet with shoes in your hand and a few cool minutes later you are now an ambivalent owner of Kevin O’Leary brand running shoes.

Window shopping is one of the biggest conduits of unplanned buying.  One of the simplest ways to cut down on unplanned purchases is just simply not being in that situation where you can buy stuff. The next time you are bored, go for a walk instead, geocache, or visit a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.

 

Amazon Dash: The New Epoch of Consumerism

Amazon Dash

When you buy an Amazon Dash, you buy a specific brand, e.g., you can buy a Tide button or a hundred different other brands.  When you press the button the button automatically places an order for the corresponding brand.  So when you come to the dread and anxiety faced when you realize you are out of some K-cups, you can press the button and the Dash orders more K-Cups by connecting to your smart phone through your home WIFI and places orders in the Amazon app.   This button serves nothing more than a shortcut, by cutting out the tedium of pulling out your smart phone and pressing a few different prompts and digital buttons to order new items.

Amazon has been quiet on if these buttons are subsidized by the brands that adorn their plastic facades, but it makes sense.  Not only do these buttons serve as free advertisement in your home, they also dampen choice.  If you have a dedicated button for Nature Valley, chances are you are not interested in seeking out alternatives.   Brands like this button because they foster customer loyalty.

The mixed news is, this is still largely an experiment.  Analyst suggest that the users most interested in this are prime members who do most of their grocery shopping online, which only amounts to 15 percent of Prime members.   Consumer intelligence suggest there are 54 million Prime members in the US, which means we have around 8 million members that use the grocery service frequently.  We can assume then, that there are less than 8 million Amazon Dash members.   But, marketers and Amazon will be sure to figure out more ways to make us into infantilized consumers, too inept to go to the store or even open a web browser to order bottled water.

 

Amazon Dash Button Tide

 

When the Dash was announced last year, it was just before April 1st, the international day of the internet prankster. Many thought that this was an April Fool’s prank, but alas, it was not.   The Dash market is growing, it currently has a little over a hundred brands to choose from.

The Dash embodies the worst qualities of the modern consumer, it fosters unprecedented laziness, while simultaneously seceding any semblance of consumer control.  While shopping can be a chore, we are endowed with a myriad of digital tools to help organize shopping trips and we can ultimately order things from the confine of our computers.  Second, as I already mentioned, this device basically incentivizes you to double down on a brand.  Everyone hates when the government does no-bid contracts, don’t be an inept bureaucrat and always make sure you consider alternatives.