Saturday, February 19, 2011

Apparently, I Am a Terrible, Pathologically Bad Consumer

Researchers found that using a generic (vs. brand name) product undermines self-esteem. In one experiment, university students were asked to type out a resume, ostensibly for a recruiting event. Students used an Apple iMac to type their resumes and were told that the keyboard and mouse were new. Some students, though, were told that the keyboard and mouse were generic parts — to save money. The students who used the generic keyboard reported expecting a lower salary. A similar effect was found in an experiment on single men. The men were presented with a set of dating profiles for women, one of whom the men could choose to call. The researchers then provided the woman’s phone number and an Apple iPhone to make an introductory call. The phone had a dead battery; the researchers then offered either a generic or brand-name replacement battery. Men who received the generic battery expected women to find them less attractive than men who received the brand-name battery.
Well, I have been told before that I am an uncommon tightwad because I do not enjoy spending money; I guess this just confirms the depth of my perversion when it comes to being a good consumer.

I seriously doubt this would work on me - I don't care about the brand of anything I use. I couldn't tell you the brand of pants or shirt I have on; I just don't care. I can't tell the brand of clothing you're wearing - I just don't care. I don't care about the kind of car I drive, as long as it gets me from point A to point B reliably, cheaply, and in an environmentally friendly way. I don't care about the brand of phone I use, as long as it does what I need it to and is cheap (side note: props to Virgin Mobile for being the only mobile phone carrier I consider reasonably priced; all others are ridiculously expensive). I have no brand or vendor loyalty (except perhaps to Amazon and NewEgg, since their prices are always among the lowest and their customer service is amazingly good).

Whenever I am buying anything, I only care about whether it gets an acceptable job done at the lowest possible cost. I never buy anything bigger, fancier, longer, smaller, stronger, harder, softer, faster, etc. than I need to get the job at hand done. And don't try to sell me something with an ongoing fee - I will find some way around it, I promise.

It's not that I don't care about quality; I certainly do. I expect my clothes, shoes, cars, electronics, and everything else to be well-made and last for a long time; I just don't care what brand those things are. And I'll always work to get the highest quality I can at the lowest possible price.

Perhaps I am an anti-consumer, the marketer's nightmare. Or perhaps the marketers are so good that they manage to manipulate my subconscious without me being aware of it - if so, kudos to them, and they deserve my money.

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