Sunday, November 4, 2012

An Honors Student Grocery Run

            So many stores use tactics like “buy-one-get-one-free” sales and loyalty cards in order to get us to buy and spend more. Most consumers think they’re getting a better deal, but are actually spending more in the long run. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” These stores are deceiving their unassuming customers into spending more money, making them think it’s actually a better deal. We as Christians shouldn’t use deception to get ourselves higher up on the ladder of success. We should be honest and present the truth to everyone.
This past Friday, I went to Kroger’s with a friend to buy groceries. Not terribly exciting, right? I had just finished reading the chapter in Martin Lindstrom’s book Brandwashed about data mining (yes, I know I was supposed to read it for Thursday, but sometimes life happens and we don’t do our Honors homework), and was still thinking about all the things he wrote in the chapter. So a seemingly normal trip to the grocery store turned into an Honors blog post. Everything I saw in the store, advertising and marketing wise, I instantly connected to what we were talking about in Honors class the day before. I went into the store with a specific list that I was determined not to veer from (I found out that I’m what Lindstrom would call a “No-Nonsense Shopper”), but my friend didn’t have any idea of what she was going to buy before she went in. I thought to myself, “This would make for a really interesting case study for Honors!” because we had two totally different approaches going into the store. She was going to just grab what looked good and I was set on getting only what was on my list.
            We started off in the produce section because bananas were at the top of my list. My friend decided that she wanted bananas too, so we both grabbed a bunch. Then we wandered over to the dairy section because she needed cheese and I needed milk. On the way we passed the lunch meat displays and saw some “All Natural” bacon on sale for 2/$6. My friend grabbed two packages and said, “It’s two for $6 – who can resist?” 
All I could think of was the part in the book that talked about how superstores use this technique to make you think you’re getting a better deal when you’re actually paying more. Moving farther down the main aisle, we passed an end display with Doritos on it. I had tortilla chips on my list, so I stopped to see if there were any “Hint of Lime” Tostitos (my guilty-pleasure snack food, eerily the same exact snack that’s given as an example in Lindstrom’s book). But the only chips in the area were the Doritos on the end of the aisle. I had to go looking through most of the other aisles before I came across the chip aisle. I grabbed my tortilla chips and my friend grabbed a couple bags of chips as well.
Then we started back toward the dairy section for our cheese and milk, what we had originally been looking for before the chip aisle side trip. I grabbed a gallon of 2% Kroger brand milk (the only kind I really like, probably because it’s the only kind my mom buys at home) and my friend grabbed a half gallon of Kroger brand chocolate milk. I saw a couple rows of egg nog by the milk and decided to check them out just because drinking egg nog is one of the holiday traditions in my family (the store was trying to use the nostalgia marketing technique on me, but I didn’t succumb – I stayed strong and resisted the urge to buy a half gallon!). Just below the egg nog I saw something else that caught my eye. It was labeled as “Grade A, Vitamin A&D, Sweet Acidophilus Lowfat Milk”. I had never heard of that kind of milk, so I decided to compare the nutritional facts to those on my 2% milk. I found out that the only differences were the amount of fat and cholesterol in the nutritional facts, but in the list of ingredients the Sweet Acidophilus Lowfat Milk said “pasteurized homogenized lowfat milk, Vit. A palmitate, Vit. D3 and Lactobacillus Acidophilus (active culture)”. Here’s a picture if you don’t believe me:
I’m still not quite sure what to make of this milk. I have no idea why it’s so special, besides having a special kind of bacteria in it. I’m also not sure what this really has to do with marketing techniques, but I thought it was really strange so I decided to include it in my blog.
            My friend and I had to make our way back to the front of the store to check out and in order to get there we had to go back through the ice cream aisle (okay, so we didn’t really have to go down that specific aisle, but we did anyways). There were four different varieties of Oreo brand ice cream! 
I spotted some pumpkin ice cream on sale and just couldn’t resist (I keep ice cream on my shopping list just in case I find a good deal and want to justify me buying it since I’m a “No-Nonsense Shopper” and don’t like to get anything not on my list).
          We finally made it back to the front of the store and to the checkout line, an hour after we walked in. As we approached the cashier, he asked if we had a Kroger’s Plus membership card. My friend didn’t, but my mom has one so I used her account for both of our orders. To get the savings and points on the Kroger’s Plus Card you have to give the cashier either a card or the phone number that goes along with the account. I couldn’t help but wonder if my mom will be getting coupons for chocolate milk, bacon, “Hint of Lime” Tostitos, and pumpkin ice cream in the near future.

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