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Life Lesson Learned From Fruit Cocktail

September 19, 2012 · 111 comments

in Life, Personal Finance

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?

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{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter September 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm

I think the cherries in fruit cocktail cans taste like wax lips, but I also wanted the bowl with the most of them because they were pretty, hahaha. Now, we are pretty good at avoiding the scarcity syndrome, but there are certain brand names we always pay extra for…Charmin, Honey Nut Cheerios, and for the biggie, Toyota. I have been very impressed with my hubby’s Prius over the last 4 years, so when my crap car finally dies, I’ll be getting a Toyota Prius or Yaris myself…

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager September 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever liked fruit cocktail.
Definitely tend to be brand loyal on certain companies, for ethical and environmental reasons.

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Aaran October 2, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Cherries without the core of course, is good for the particular work! Gives you color also! For the brands, I think that is silly to be devoted on a company, buying whatever it launches, without consideration. I buy with my pocket profit on mind!

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Bruce Anderson October 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

That’s what advertising is all about, isn’t it ?
The successful ad will make us “want” the item that we don’t “need” because it raises our perceived status.
I’ve noticed recently that Welch’s Grape Jelly now advertises that its jelly starts with a full pound of grapes. Huh ? Perhaps Dole should say their fruit cocktail starts with 27 real cherries !!
I do most of the grocery shopping since my wife still works and I’m retired. I’ll always go with the store brand until such time as I find it’s not as good as the name brand. Probably 8 times out of 10, the store brand is as good as the name brand and is less expensive. Not much less expensive, but 30 cents here and 30 cents there ads up. (like the Fed Government says: ” A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon we are talking about big money ! ” )
‘Course, don’t listen to me…I’m the guy who pays off their credit card bill in full every month !

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Melly Schug October 7, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I don’t eat fruit cocktail because it taste like wax to me but fresh fruits does. Great perspective and I learn something. Thanks a lot for sharing this to us.

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Tony @ Intangible Investor October 9, 2012 at 6:20 am

Speaking of cherries, Id have to agree. They taste like plastic (they don’t even look like real cherries!)

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PaydayDesk October 26, 2012 at 3:17 am

Well, everybody manage their money in different way, but there people who makes just crazy mistakes. I think that scarcity of item affects decision sometimes, people like buying something unique or something like that. But every one has/his or her own opinion and there’s nothing to do with that. People have different reasons to buy, some one doesn’t actually what he/she buys, but it’s can be expensive, rare, unique and etc and for some one that’s the most important reason to make a purchase.

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Thomas S. Moore October 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

I guess it depends on who you ask. Some cheaper shoes are not different then the expensive one but then I have some shoes that I paid more for that have lasted years. My wife is a brand shopper and there are just somethings like soap and toilet tissue that I prefer brands.

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Financial Independence October 30, 2012 at 7:47 am

I have to confess – yes, there is brand I am quite loyal too. It is a shoemaker. I have been introduced to it, when I did not have resources to buy it, but now I do and still loyal to it.
But than it is always sold as a treat – buy something beyond your means. Quite frequently we do it to our kids – buy a gift or something out of normal. One way to look at it – is to feel what it out there, beyond everyday life.

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Leslie November 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

We had fruit cocktail as kids, but never faught over the bowl with the most cherries. I think it because none of us really liked it enough to care. Now make that a bowl of potatoe chips and watch the fighting for bowl with the most chips begin! I am not a typical female, I do not like shopping – at all – in fact I pretty much hate it. So I do not question myself if something I want is really something I need…because if I actually made the major effort to go out and get it, I know I really wanted it for a specific purpose. I certainly see your point, but I am not a keep up with the Joneses person so it is hard to relate.

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Amy @ JobCred CV Builder November 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

There are products that I’m loyal in buying food ingredients because I want to maintain the quality and taste that I’d like to achieve. The nutritional value also counts. For instance, I won’t settle for a condensed creamer or condensed skimmed milk over condensed full cream milk. But I agree about not making unnecessary choices like extra cherries.

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Jon @ Student Loans December 1, 2012 at 8:41 pm

The concept of scarcity is definitely an interesting one and one I have thought about a lot over the years. There is one interesting exception I have found to the rule of scarcity…
No one ever buys the last baked good…if you sell muffins and bake 10 you will only ever sell 9. If the last one is on its own no one will buy it.

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Jules@Faithful With a Few January 15, 2013 at 9:48 am

What a great analogy! I always got the cherries! I am not one to care too much about brands, but I know plenty of people who are. Love this!

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Dan@Todays Education September 19, 2013 at 12:36 am

How could you not like cherries??? Man I love them, I buy them by the jar.. or bag, depending on what kind we get.

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