Shopping: Who is in control?

There is a report out in the Telegraph today in which an academic claims that IKEA manipulates people into making impulse buys. And in other news, Chief Rabbi says "Bacon Sandwich - not for me!"

Shopping is a transaction, a two way thing. Nobody forces you to shop. You shop out of neccessity or, you shop because that is what you do. You have more choice than ever before. Unless you live on Barra you can get any kind of rocket salad, with or without herbs, but of course if you live on Barra you can grow it yourself. You have to be canny when it comes to shopping or you may be one of the few people who end up at DFS when there isn't a sale on. Even then you will be lulled into a cocoon of ease and fecklessness because you will not have to pay for your sofa for a year and spread the payments over four years. The fact that a DFS sofa will need to be thrown out before you have finished paying for it is neither here nor there because you can then get a new one.
Women are the premium compulsive shoppers because they crave attention and control and many have such low self esteem that the little bit of power they get at the point of sale is the only time they will feel in charge of their own lives. It's an industry cliche that in hard times a female in search of cosmetics will buy a lipstick anyway, just to assert themselves.
When you shop you enter into a social deal with someone who, for that moment defers to you. Sales assistantsare in a permanent state of deference. This has the effect slewing social intercourse, just for a moment, making the customer feel good, feel fulfilled, feel, for once that they mean something.
It's a powerful motivator. There is a drug like rush you can get from handing over your card and it is addictive. Moreover, it is possible to be maniplulated to such an extent that in any other context it would be seen as grooming and coercion.

So who is in control? Well, the report I link to is typical of the kind of gibberish spouted by the academic liberal left. It works on the premise that we are incapable of discernment or common sense. And to some extent we are. We are so used to being nannied that the idea that someone may be leading us up the garden path and into the bushes comes as a shock.
I have to put my hands up. In the past I have visited IKEA and come back with a load of crap. What I will not do is blame IKEA. I blame myself, for I am weak, lacking in self-esteem and bored. The upside is that if I surround myself with enough crap, I can go back and find some inspirational storage solutions.

PS
The seminal treatise on marketing manipulation is Vance Packard's "Hidden Pursuaders", written at the beginning of the Mad Men era (1957) when people still enjoyed a two-martini and a pack of Chesterfields lunch. It tells you all you need to know. The book is as game-changing as Orwell's 1984 and if you have not read it, you should.

3 comments:

Ruth@VS said...

Why the Ikea thing should come as a surprise is beyond me - I noticed this the first time I went, and yes, I did buy things I didn't intend to! I think the issue is one of self-control; credit has become so easy to get that people get carried away. Speaking as a weak-willed woman, my technique is to say to myself "can I afford it?" and "do I really need it". If the answer to one of these questions is "no", then my purse stays in my bag. And no-one forces anyone to visit shops, do they? Get a hobby instead!

Twig said...

"Women are the premium compulsive shoppers because they crave attention and control and many have such low self esteem that the little bit of power they get at the point of sale is the only time they will feel in charge of their own lives."

And "Women don't know the offside rule." either

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Twig. Stuff and nonsense. If women want to play, then they should bloody well act like men and not need to be constantly patronised and made allowances for. Have you ever seen men watching footie? It's disgusting and it is also jokey and obscene and about as politiclly incorrect as it gets. Women playing football? Do they complain about the seat being left up in the changing rooms?

If you are going to have demand "equality" you have to accept that in a man's world, insults are a sign of friendship and acceptance.