Tell me what you want.


I just went into a supermarket. As I headed for what I wanted to buy I was told, “sir, get a free mug.  When you buy these tomato soups.  It’s a really good offer”.


I thought, “who is it good for”?


Do I need a mug? No, we’ve got so many that they end up stacked.  Do I need tomato soup? No, we’ve got soup and I don’t particularly like tomato, unless it’s fresh, made with basil etc., so a cheap packet is not on the list.


So how is it a “really good offer”?


It might be quite good if you want some cheap(-ish) tomato soup.  Or if you will use the soup and want a mug – assuming that you can’t buy the mug cheaper anyway.  


But a “really good” – I doubt it.


It’s a lovely example of how wants, needs, values and costs all get mixed.  


I don’t need it, I don’t want it, it has no value to me.  But because it costs less than it might do, it’s alleged to be a “really good offer”.


It’s focussing entirely on cost, not on value, not on need, not even on want. 


It’s telling people to focus entirely on whether something is cheap, not on whether it is of any value, whether they need it, whether it is worth anything to  them.  


How many people get sucked in by this every day (hint – if it didn’t sucker enough people, supermarkets would’t do it)?


So they spend, say, £2.50 each day – perhaps £15 each week, £60 each month, £720 each year.  And that’s net.  If you offered them a pay rise of £1,000 they’d be really keen, but they’ll waste the equivalent amount because “it’s a really good offer”.


How about you – do you think it’s a good offer, or do you compare things to what you actually need, want or value before deciding whether it is any sort of offer?


And do you do the same thing with a new mobile phone, a cable TV deal, a new car and so on?  Do you actually think about what you value, what you need, what you want, or do you allow other people to focus you on what it costs?






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2 Responses to Tell me what you want.

  1. Ray Fletcher says:

    Kim, I particularly liked your reference to mobile phones…my existing (steam-driven, 8 year old) phone is on its last legs. What do I need? A bog-standard 2G phone WITHOUT all the bells and whistles… but when I go into a shop to buy such a beast, I am treated as if I had just landed from Mars. Where are the products for those who just need basics – and don’t give a jot about “really good”??
    Many thanks.
    Ray Fletcher

  2. Kim Stephenson says:

    Too true, basic stuff – in the same way as mending things instead of throwing them away and buying a new one – seems to be a thing of the past. And there’s also the question of who defines “good” or “really good”? For somebody who lives on their phone, it may actually be essential and have real value, so it’s not just very good it’s excellent. On the other hand, the same thing to somebody like you (or me) may be pretty much worthless – it’s not even good, it’s a waste of money. So I’d urge people to think in terms of what they really want and need, and what is “good” for them, rather than what some outside “expert” etc. says is good.

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