We all fall for advertising, whether or not we would like to admit it. Of course, many of my friends and family scoff at print ads that make promises like “100 percent satisfaction guaranteed.” However, whenever we make daily purchases, we have a plurality of choice, and sometimes I wonder to what extent advertising pervades my decisions.
In terms of budgeting, I believe it’s very important to analyze how we go about making purchasing decisions when it comes to personal, pedestrian products that we buy at a grocery store or a convenient store. While we do tend to do much research when we are preparing ourselves to make large purchases–for example, a car or television–we may not even think twice about the products we buy monthly, even though when you really think about it, these smaller purchases often amount to a greater portion of our budget, when taken in aggregate, than do luxury, once-in-a-blue-moon items.
The thing about personal products at the grocery store is that while there are hundreds of different brands for essentially one item (think deodorant, toothpaste, cereal, etc.) they all essentially have the same functionality and effectiveness. As someone who is looking to spend and save wisely, the best way to go about picking products is to establish a criteria and stick to it. Here’s a suggested route:
1. What are my actual preferences (not preferences ads say that I must have)?
Everyone has preferences, and I think the best way to disentangle yourself from the pseudo-preferences that brands promote is to stop and think, what is it precisely about any product that I value? Preferences like specific flavors or scents are an example.
2. What is the cheapest product that adheres to my preferences?
This one is kind of tricky simply because sometimes the cheapest product is not necessarily the most cost-effective. What I do is start with the least expensive product that meets the above criteria, and then I determine if the next cheapest has anything of value to me specifically (better tasting or longer-lasting) that the cheapest one doesn’t.
3. What type of labeling draws my attention?
A recent study undertaken by Harvard School researchers found that many are drawn to advertising that perceives its products as the “underdog”. After reading the study, I found that I, too, fall for this sort of labeling. Always ask yourself about the product’s inherent value (which can be determined by trying out the product or reading reviews online) instead of its purported value.
These are just a few things to think about when it comes to advertising, but above all, whenever purchasing seemingly miniscule, everyday products, always be aware of what you are buying and why you are buying it at the moment of purchase. Ask yourself, do I really need this? Thinking deeply about purchases during routine shopping trips can, in the final analysis, help save more money than you would imagine.
About the Author:
This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who writes on the topics of online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99 @gmail.com.