FPU Tuesdays: Buyer Beware


April 2, 2013 by Will Ray

Ever heard of the phrase “Caveat Emptor?”  In last night’s lesson, Dave shares “all the Latin he knows” and explains that it means “Let the Buyer Beware.”

Buyer Beware

Last night’s lesson wasn’t about being careful not to get scammed like you might expect.  Instead it focused on helping us understand the role of marketing in our purchasing decisions, so that our financial plan doesn’t get derailed by great marketing tactics.

We can have a great financial plan; it’s important to have one!  But if we give into great marketing more often then not, we’re gonna be left with a bunch of stuff we don’t really need and no money to make our plan happen.

Clever marketing is the marriage of art and science almost like no other.  Marketers study us (consumers) fastidiously – our habits, likes and dislikes, emotions, movements, and purchasing behaviors.  Literally millions, if not billions of dollars are poured into the science of understanding what we do when it comes to buying, and why we do it.

I’m on the mailing list for a research firm in the area, so I get emails about focus groups and surveys that they might want me to be a part of.  Huge companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars with this firm to facilitate in-depth studies about what people like and don’t like, what they want and don’t want.

That’s where the art comes in, implementing all this research that they accumulated.  Making brands, logos, signage, commercials, jingles, sales and all sorts of other things that will attract us to their product or service.  We think this doesn’t affect us all that much, but it does.

Last night during the video, Dave shared some popular brand tag-lines.  They’ve been around for decades, and the entire audience could fill in the blank when he shared the line.  One of the most popular was, “Melts in your mouth, not in your ________.”  You all know it.

M&M’s began using that line in 1954.  Wow.

I saw this effort to understand the best ways to market to you when working for a national retail pharmacy chain for two years.  As an assistant manager, we received oodles of training about customer behavior and effective “merchandising” to build “profit per customer visit.”  Each of our merchandising displays were ranked on a point scale for how likely you would be to pass by it.  We received hours of training on ways to make those displays stick out, be attractive, and get your attention.

Oh, and ever wonder why the pharmacy is in the back of those things?  So you have to walk past all of our well-designed, attractive displays, of course.

There’s an all-out effort to separate us from our money.  It’s not evil; it’s not a conspiracy; it’s just a marketing machine that comes along with free enterprise.

We just need to be able to recognize it, call it what it is – “Great Marketing” – and be aware of its power, so that we don’t lose track.  THEY don’t need to be making our financial decisions for us; being aware of marketing keeps US in control of our money, and on the right track.

Question: What brand has the most effective marketing, in your opinion?  Confession: For me, it’s Apple.  How has great marketing burned you in the past?

One thought on “FPU Tuesdays: Buyer Beware

  1. GP says:

    Reblogged this on misentopop.

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About me…

Youth minister, financial coach and part-time wedding photographer, based in Raleigh, NC

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