When I was a kid, my brothers and I loved fruit cocktail. The can would be divided into three bowls, and then the fighting would begin. Why did we fight? Well each of us wanted the bowl with the most cherries!
What is funny is that I didn’t even like the cherries- they always tasted like plastic that was bathed in chemicals to me. However, because they were so rare, I wanted the bowl that appeared to have the most cherries. How dumb is that?
Now there is a new type of fruit cocktail called “Very Cherry”. I wonder how popular it is. Does anyone like those cherries? Does anyone buy “Very Cherry”? Am I the only one that wanted the bowl with the most cherries because I could somehow claim a victory by possessing it?
So what is the lesson here?
How often is scarcity a factor in your decision making?
In essence, a Coach bag or a 3 carat ring is no different than the fruit cocktail bowl with a few extra cherries. (I am guessing some may disagree with me here…) None of the three bowls of fruit cocktail mentioned earlier were any different from each other except for a couple of small pieces of fruit. However, the perceived value was greater because of the scarcity of the item (the cherries). When someone pays a premium for an item that is not truly differentiated by quality or some other benefit, then the consumer is essentially paying for an image. It is up to each person to put a value on the image/pleasure received from any item they buy, and people all have different threshholds for what they are willing to pay for something. Those with unlimited resources might not blink an eye on spending $400 on a purse. The funny thing is, some people with very limited resources feel the same way, and so having credit card debt is worth the good feeling they get from owning a particular item.
I am not here to judge how people spend their money. I just want you to think next time you do go out to buy a “discretionary” item. Is it really worth it to spend extra money for a certain label? Does the happiness gained from owning that item last, or does regret start to creep in when the bill shows up?
Out of curiosity, is there a certain product or brand you are very loyal to, even though there are comparable, less expensive options available? I don’t mean Kroger brand green beans versus Del Monte. I am referring to more expensive items. Also, do you like the cherries in fruit cocktail?