Cap'n Arbyte's



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Impulse Shopping

I don't go shopping a lot. I don't mind shopping, but it doesn't excite me, so I only go when I have something specific to buy — and I usually buy just that, and leave.

Recently I set out to buy some new socks and underwear. Yeah, excitement. I also made an impulse purchase of some new bedding.

Not ordinary run-of-the-mill (literally - sic!) sheets. I decided, on a whim, to buy some premium stuff. 100% Egyptian cotton, 400 thread count, imported from Pakistan. It's significantly nicer than the stuff I had been sleeping on for the past several years.

This wasn't a planned purchase. I hadn't seen any advertising to stoke my desire. I just walked by the bedding section in the store and thought "hmm, I'd like some new sheets." This impulse purchase amounted to 80% of my bill.

I've been slow to realize that I don't need to live like a college student anymore. I can afford to have nice things and decided to add some luxury to my life as opportunities arise. Which is fairly rare, because I don't go shopping often.

In that vein, I wish I had some advice for marketers. I'm either a very hard or a very easy person to sell to. I'll buy bedding of higher quality than I need on a whim, but I'll also complain about much less expensive things being overpriced. (Why get a mere pint or so of milk at a restaurant when the same price fetches half a gallon at the supermarket?)

It must be maddening to work in marketing. Customers like me don't make sense. Advertising barely affects me, but programs do. For example, after seeing an episode of Modern Marvels about cereal, I realized it had been a very long time since I'd eaten any cereal. So the next time I went to the grocery store, I bought bundles of single-serving-size packs of cereals so I could try a bunch and see what I liked. This does not mean product placement works on me. I bought a variety of cereals because the program was about cereals; I didn't buy any particular cereal because it was mentioned in the program.

Engineering must be easier than marketing. The things we build make sense. We, ourselves, don't.

Tiny Island