5 sleek marketing ploys aimed at your grocery money
Many of these tactics prey on our desire to do good.
cost of food isn't going down, and for some, it's making the task of
feeding a family more painful than ever. It doesn't help that ad
agencies and PR companies are getting better at creating snazzy
gimmicks to get you to buy.
Instead of providing you with better food at larger quantities, some of them are selling slicker packaging and empty promises. Here's a look at some of the biggest marketing myths designed to keep you spending.
Pre-portioned food is for the weak. I'll
admit that it is very tempting to snag one of those 100-calorie snack
packs that go on sale frequently at my grocer. Individually wrapped
portions keep us in line by making sure we don't overindulge in
cookies, crackers or chips.
- Bing: How to make cheap snacks
Seriously, folks, who are we
kidding? If you look at how much they are charging per portion, it is
insanely overpriced. I could easily dole out 13 crackers on my own and
toss them in a reusable Ziploc bag, thus saving money and damage to the
environment. What about the health benefits of watching your portions?
If your penchant to overeat is so easily restrained by the workings of
a flimsy cellophane bag marked "100 calories," then you are a better
person that I am.
Soup for the cure. Any company that
works alongside an honorable charity has my full support. However, I
would like to clarify that I have been disappointed by the recent rash
of *** cancer promotions by my favorite brands. Pink soup cans, pink
appliances and pink M&Ms have me a little overwhelmed and confused.
Are we expected to pay more for these premium brands simply
because of a promise that a tiny percentage of the purchase price will
go to *** cancer research? Personally, I would rather use a coupon or
buy the store-brand mushroom soup, and write out a nice $15 check to
the charity of my choice. I get more groceries for my money, and it's
tax-deductible. By exploiting a relationship with Susan G. Komen for the Cure,
many companies have managed to sell plenty of merchandise at quite a
premium. For more information on how companies are profiting from these
campaigns, visit Think Before You Pink's Web site.
It's all for your health. Remember
when yogurt was just yogurt? Now you have yogurt "for digestive health"
and yogurt for "immune defense." There is a growing debate over how
much influence these new products will have on your health, and the
definitive verdict is that you will experience benefits only if you
continue to use them. With a cost of two to three times more than their
"regular" counterparts, many people can't make that kind of commitment.
A recent lawsuit against Dannon
has many experts reminding consumers that yogurt alone isn't the cure
for all digestive ailments. It's important to remember that there is no
miracle cure for your health.
Among additional healthy-food
trends that will become popular this year are the inclusion of DHA
omega-3 in baby food, pomegranate and blueberries in juice, and calcium
in hot cocoa. Many of these foods can be viewed as "new and improved."
Others are just exploiting the same benefits they (and other brands)
have always offered.
Remember our animal friends. As
consumers demand to know exactly where their food is coming from,
meats, eggs and dairy will hold a new spotlight. Food from "humane"
sources are in high demand, and with that comes a higher price.
Consumers need to have an understanding of how standards are applied,
however, before they can assume that pricier foods will meet their
ethical standards. Eggs, for example, can carry the label "cage-free,"
"free-range" or "certified organic" and still not be "certified
Both Sauce magazine and the Humane Society of the United States have guides on what each label means. If you're going to be paying three times more for that egg, it's good to know if it will actually meet your standards.
It's all included. Really?
New breakfast kits, lunch kits and snack packs are hitting store
shelves every week. Some of them include everything you need for a
healthy meal (or so it seems). In addition to being calorie-rich and
preservative-laden, many of them are also missing some key components.
These Breakfast Breaks
from General Mills are an attempt to give kids a healthy start to their
day. While it's a great idea in theory, it's disappointing that parents
can't even get it together enough to pour a bowl of cold cereal and
throw down a glass of juice for Junior. And did anyone else notice that
this "complete breakfast" is missing the milk? (I won't even address
the horrendous amount of packaging this product comes in.)
marketing companies struggle to come up with new ways to sell you the
same food, be aware of trends that become widespread over several
brands. With markups at more than 200% of the cheapest brands, it may
be wise to do a little additional research before succumbing to the
temptation to buy. Generally speaking, the more advertising money a
company has thrown at a new product, the more it is going to charge --
and consequently, the more they need you to buy it to keep them in their profit zones.
Other articles of interest by Linsey Knerl:
- Allowances for kids: Teaching the value of money
- When mom gets ill: Coping skills for sick days
- Meatloaves with style: 5 ways to jazz up the Wednesday night special
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Even those who don't like to shop are probably hitting the stores this month. Here's what to be on the lookout for and here's what to avoid.