Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One For You.. Two for Me.. One For You...

While Christmas shopping last week, I realized that I have a really bad habit of buying things for myself when I'm out shopping for others. I'm a firm believer in the whole 'reward yourself' idea, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Go to Murdoch's to buy something for my dad and I walk out with a new scarf and shirt for me, and one shirt for my dad. Last year I went into Eddie Bauer to buy one of their super awesome First Ascent fleece pullover for my little brother, and walked out with one for him and two for myself (hey, they were on sale for $10!!).

If this lady is anything like me, half of that stuff is for her.

I believe my purchases can mostly be contributed to impulse buying - I don't plan on buying things for myself, and as soon as I see something for me that's on sale, I immediately purchase it. Grr. Then, 9 times out of 10 I feel really bad about it and return it. Retailers must really LOVE me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Increase of "Necessary Accessories"

With the improvements and advancements in technology and manufacturing, there are thousands of new products every year. A great example is a grocery store; there are about 3 times as many products in stores now than there were in the 50's. Another example of the addition of new products are the 'accessories' that are now considered necessary for activities that used to require only basic products. Take running for example - before, you really only needed some athletic shoes, shorts and a shirt and you were good to go. Now, with the improvements in technology and creation of new products, a runner might feel that it's necessary to own several pairs of running shoes, moisture-wicking clothing, a hat, polarized sunglasses, gps watch, iPod, and heart-rate monitor. Obviously the creation of new products can be beneficial, but in some cases it seems a little excessive.

Friday, December 2, 2011


In my wiki page about brand loyalty, insistence, and habit, I talked about 'inertia'. The text described intertia as purchasing a specific brand or product simply out of laziness or habit, not because you actually feel a connection to the brand.

While walking to class yesterday, I noticed that people do a lot of things out of inertia - take for example the pathways through the grass and snow on campus. Even though the pathway was a solid sheet of ice yesterday, I saw several people staying directly on the path the entire way across the lawn. Literally a foot off of the path was grass. Did anyone venture off of the path onto the far less slippery and dangerous grass? No, except for me.

Another example of human inertia are the desks/tables that students sit at in class. I am definately guilty of this one - instead of moving to new seating positions within the classroom, many students often choose the same exact spot day in and day out - and, if someone sits in 'your' spot, you get upset.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Celebrity Endorsements

In class yesterday we discussed the 'balance theory' and how celebrities that endorse products could affect whether a person buys a product or not - the theory is that if you don't like the endorser, you can either change your mind about the person, or you can keep yourself in balance by disliking the product as well.

I started to think about products or brands that I dislike because I'm not a fan of the celebrity endorser. Pretty much anything with Kim Kardashian is big "dislike button" for me. I don't understand why she is famous and everything about her screams fake and scandalous. So, Sketchers and her Sears clothing line are definitely not for me. Paris Hilton is another celebrity that I strongly dislike - I will never eat a Carl's Jr burger (one because she endorsed it and two, that was disturbing).

I also started to think about brands that I don't like, and how, if a celebrity that I used to like endorses that brand, I sometimes feel disgust about that person. I don't want to open up a bag of worms with this, but PETA really irritates me. I'm all for the ethical treatment of animals - I have always owned a dog and the one I have now is literally like my child. However, the founder of PETA is an over-the-top, irrational, and arrogant woman who destroys property in order to make a point. Furthermore, I also believe that hunting animals for food is perfectly legitimate - PETA does not. So, when a celebrity that I like does an endorsement for PETA, I immediately feel annoyed with that celebrity.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Lists

Yes, I still make them. But, in my defense, my family requests them so they know what to get me since I live here in Bozeman while they are all in Yakima, WA. My boyfriend's mom asked me if I had made one yet the other day and I went into a sort of panic mode. (This is what went through my mind) *Holy crap I hadn't even thought of anything yet - I mean my birthday is before Christmas! Plus, if shes asking for one then that means everyone else in my family is probably thinking about it too.*

So, I started contemplating things that I need (or just want) for Christmas. I still felt a sense of panic - asking for certain presents makes me feel guilty, I mean who likes to ask for something super expensive? 1) It makes you look like you only like expensive things 2) maybe they don't have the money for it this year and they might feel guilty they can't get it for you. My Christmas list feels like a guilt trap - I either feel guilty for asking or I'm afraid that my family will feel guilty if they don't purchase the things on my list. What ever happened to the days when I was little and wrote EVERYTHING down? I'm pretty sure I asked for the entire JC Penny catalog once. When you're a kid, you can ask for anything you want and everyone just thinks you're being cute. Plus, as a kid you're not disappointed if you don't get everything on the list so you're family doesn't feel bad for not buying it. Why can't life still be this simple?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I always find it funny/interesting/annoying that Christmas advertising and products come out either right before or immediately after Halloween. I mean, I went to the store to pick up some last minute Halloween decorations and there were almost as many Christmas decorations as Halloween ones.

I get, Christmas is awesome. It's my favorite holiday too. But, there is this thing called Thanksgiving that comes first, not to mention that Christmas actually occurs towards the end of December, not the end of October. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas music, decorations, treats, and all the joy that comes with spending time with my family too. But, if you start showing ads and playing music two months before Christmas even gets here, I'm going to get super annoyed and find Christmas not so enjoyable anymore. Coming from a person who's worked in retail and had to listen to the "Christmas Music" cd that corporate sends in early November, the holiday season isn't called "the most wonderful time of the year" by anyone who listens that repeat 4 times in one shift.

So, why do stores stock up on all-things Christmas in October? Why are holiday ads aired the day after Halloween? When did the corporate minds begin to push Christmas on consumers? All I can think of is that this whole trend was created by the people who buy Christmas presents in August, have 12 light-up Christmas tree sweaters, and smell like sugar cookies.

On a brighter note, here is my favorite Christmas ad I've seen so far - it's got a little bit of the holiday spirit to it, but not so much that you feel like your being pushed to buy presents right this minute:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Perceived Beauty

A couple of weeks ago, there was a wiki presentation about how the ideal 'beauty' has become distorted - women now have to be extremely skinny for them to feel beautiful in many cases. Take ballerinas or models for instance; they are extremely skinny and unhealthy, yet they are constantly told how great they look.

During the first viewing of "Bend it Like Beckham", I overheard a couple of classmates talking about how 'buff' and 'inshape' Keira Knightley's character is. I was shocked and a little bothered by their comments. As someone who is extremely interested in fitness and active, healthy lifestyles, I think that Keira's character doesn't look like a real soccer player, and she is most definatley not buff or in good shape. I think she looks like a starving model. I think the fact that several of my classmates identified her as an ideal body type is disturbing and it goes to show just how twisted our idea of ideal beauty is today.

When I think of a female who is 'buff' and in shape, I think of actual fitness models or athletes. Those that are healthy and have muscle tone and definition. Not only do these girls exercise to look great, but they are doing so in a healthy way that keeps their weight down and also decreases the chances of any serious illnesses caused by over-eating or having a sedentary lifestyle. I think that the ideal body should reflect these qualities and not look like Keira in the above picture.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Frageelay".. Must be Italian!

It came! My Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Pin! Just kidding, I'm really referring to my treadmill that I ordered 2 weeks ago.

Something that has always been hilarious (and yet not funny at all) to me are the directions that come with anything that needs to be assembled at home. The directions are always written in a circle; Step 1: turn to page 3 and follow step 7, (On page 3, step 7, you're told to turn to page 14). It literally took me over 4 hours to assemble my treadmill, with help! Not only are directions provided in packaging written in a circle, the pictures never look like the product or the 'parts' needed don't match the description. Another favorite part of assembly is the Allan-wrench. A stick with a hexagon like shape at one end that has absolutely no power to turn the screw once it starts to get a little tight.

On a more positive note, my treadmill now has more technology than my phone does - it has a 10 inch color touch screen, android browser, Wifi capabilities and it can download Google maps for training. Now if only I could run on it without my IT band syndrome kicking in...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Costumes.. are you really wearing THAT?

Anyone that has ever seen "Mean Girls" knows what I'm talking about - Halloween is the holiday where girls put on, shall we say "less conservative" outfits and the ones with the most scandalous costumes always seem to win "best costume" awards. In the case of Mean Girls, they wear some spandex with animal ears and maybe a tail and call it good.

What ever happened to creative, funny costumes? Or costumes that are just awesome? I mean, last year I went as an 80's aerobics instructor and everyone loved it - technically I was wearing spandex leggings with a leotard over them, but I was also wearing a t-shirt over that and leg warmers (not exactly sexy) but everyone loved it!

It's not like guys find every costume that involves not wearing a shirt so why do girls? Just saying...

Even teenage girl costumes are getting more inappropriate!

In case you're wondering.. this lady is dressed up as a pirate... right.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

C1250, the Pro Elite 900, or the TrailRunner 4..

Photo: Huffing For Stuffing 2010 
Since the weather in Bozeman is only decent for 4 months out of the year, running outside becomes either miserable or impossible. After running Huffing for Stuffing in zero degree weather, I decided that I needed to save up for a treadmill to stay in shape during the winter months.

But, having never purchased a treadmill and only using one a couple times a year at the gym, I had NO idea how difficult it would be to pick one out. First of all, it's not like you can try them out unless the local gym happens to have that model. Second, all of the features are so similar its hard to know what the differences are. Third, they are expensive! If I'm going to spend that much money I want to be getting the best product I can afford.

So, after researching (and by this I mean googling treadmill reviews, running magazines, and corporate websites) for 2 months, I finally decided on one. I think the Internet has provides a huge advantage when purchasing products like this. Before, consumers probably would have looked in store catalogues without being able to compare different models from different stores. Customer reviews would've also been harder to find.

My new treadmill is on its way to Bozeman as we speak - hopefully I chose the right one!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ouch That Hurt - I Think I Want Another!

Tattoos and piercings - one of the strangest consumer purchases when you think about it. Not only do they hurt, but they can cause unwanted scarring (piercings), major buyer's remorse, and embarrassment. However, they can also create a sense of pride, self improvement, confidence, self expression.

Ask almost any person who's gotten a tattoo or piercing, and they will tell you that they are addicting. I myself have two tattoos (with plans for more), double ear piercings, and a belly button piercing. When I was reading Fournier's article on the extended self, I began thinking about my tattoos. I see them as a form of self expression and a way of rewarding myself. I got the dragonfly tattoo on my foot for my 21st birthday (I was completely sober by the way) and it was the most painful thing I've ever intentionally done to myself. But, I absolutely love it and I get compliments on it very often. I have also planned to get another tattoo as a personal reward for completing a marathon. I see them as part of myself and I can't imagine not having them.

I find it really interesting that the attitudes about tattoos have changed dramatically from 'only sailors and bikers' have tattoos to now, where house-wives and 50 year old women get them. My grandmother got a tattoo on her 60th birthday and it's adorable. I also read in an article a couple years ago (I can't remember what its called now) that 60% of CEO's or company executives have tattoos but you wouldn't know because they keep them covered. So, maybe that dragon tattoo won't keep you from landing your dream job... unless it's on your face/neck.

Photo: Courtesy of Me!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Service? Good? What Am I Buying?

After running quite a few road races in the last couple of years, I began to think about what I was actually 'buying' when forking out cash for a race entry. I wouldn't consider it a service, because I'm the one running. I also don't think it's a good - unless you count the race numbers, timing chips, and awesome tee shirts. Sometimes, there's even a free drink at the end (Run to the Pub and Oktoberfest races).

The more I think about it, I feel like I'm buying an experience. Yes they're providing the opportunity to race against other runners, but I feel more like I've actually purchased something after race is complete. I now not only have the race shirt, but I have the memories of the race and the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. According to Maslow, I've just purchased something to fulfill my esteem / self actualization needs.

Photo: From me!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mythical Creatures and Urban Legend

While reading an article about Frank Luntz (who we learned about from the Persuaders) I noticed an icon for a news story about 'El Chupacabra' being sighted. I immediately clicked it wanting to read about this urban legend / mythical creature being spotted (and even killed for DNA testing!) Then, after reading the article and discovering that the 5 or 6 reports of the creature since the original sighting in 1995, have actually turned out to be coyotes and raccoons with severe mange disease, I felt disappointed.

Why is it, that people all over the world want to believe in creatures that, like this blood-sucking goat killer, could be dangerous? Benjamin Radford, the managing editor of the journal The Skeptical Inquirer and LiveScience columnist, has a theory:
"The thing about myths is that people want to believe in things," he said. "I suppose that, in a perverse way, there's something comforting in that there's this vampiric monster that doesn't attack humans."

To read Radford's article, click here.
Also, check out this site full of other mythical creatures we humans believe in!

Photo courtesy of: http://animal.discovery.com/tv/lost-tapes/sea-monsters/loch-ness-monster/

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Energy Shots- Concentrated Awfulness

The beverage world hasn't been the same since Energy Drinks were released- well in 2004 it changed again and has been growing ever since. Most people have seen commercials for 5 hr Energy, which was the first of these 2 ounce, concentrated caffeine drinks. This article from the New York Times in 2009, talks about the price of the drinks (20 times more per ounce than a Coca-Cola!) and about the 700 million dollar industry.

Why are consumers so in love with drinks that cost $3.99+ for two ounces and taste horrible? Because of all the wonderful things they do of course! Just watch this commercial:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marathoners - A social membership group

Consumers are often influenced by what we call reference groups- groups that we actually belong to, aspire to belong to, or groups that we want to disassociate ourselves from. Many purchasing and marketing decisions can be related back to these groups. For instance, professional sports fans purchase jerseys because they either 'belong' to the group of fans that support a team or they 'aspire' to be like their favorite athlete. 

Since completing my first marathon on Sept. 11th, I've noticed that runners in general are a reference group as well. If you really enjoy running, you might consider yourself  "a runner".  Runners are almost an elite group of individuals that find running not only enjoyable, but necessary in their day-to-day lives --it's more than just being in shape, it's part of who they are. Participating in road races or trail races furthers the notion that you belong to this group- not only do you enjoy it, but you also compete. 

Marathoners are a whole other sub-group within the larger reference group. These runners have a kinship with each other because not only have they run a distance that many gawk at, many come back to run it over and over. After running my race, I posted to my Facebook that I am now a 'marathoner', my friend wrote back that "You're now part of the group with all the other crazies". We joke about ourselves while being proud at the same time. Hal Higdon, a famous runner and contributor to Running World Magazine has written several books about marathons including this quote: 

"It's an extra special event. It's like tacking a Ph.D. at the end of your name, getting married, having a baby. You're special, whether anyone else knows it or not. You certainly do. Your life will never again be quite the same, and regardless of what the future brings, you can look back and say, "I finished a marathon." " -Hal Higdon, Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide