THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 10, 2020
I'm a list guy. I make lists for everything, big and small. In fact, I have a paper “To-Do” list on my desk right now and “write Cadillac News column” is an item on the list. Eventually, I will experience one of the simple joys of life when I get to cross that item off my list. Ah, I love the sight of a string of completed tasks with lines through them.
This addiction to lists all began at Flint St. Luke elementary school where the Dominican nuns drilled into us the importance of organization. Simply, by about the third grade no student was allowed to be disorganized.
In what would seem like old school overkill by today's students, let me assure you that my life has been easier due to the relentlessness of those nuns. We were taught the Roman numeral system. Use Roman numerals (I, II, III, IV, V...) to identify main points, use capital letters (A, B, C, D...) to divide your main points into parts, use Arabic numbers (1,2,3,4...)to divide the parts into smaller parts, and use lower case letters (a,b,c,d...)to divide the parts of the parts into even smaller parts.
This system is so ingrained in my noggin after all these years, whenever I set out on a task (like writing this column) all the elements just “snap” into an outline. Heck, I'm even one of those weirdos who reads all the directions BEFORE I put something together. You know, just to make sure those directions are correctly outlined.
Anyway, because of my predilection to lists, I tend to gravitate to news articles about lists. For example, I recently came across one titled “29 Psychological Tricks To Make You Buy More.” It turns out there are tricks of the trade in the marketing game. “Marketers are attempting to influence your subconscious mind.”
Have you ever been in a store and had to wander around trying to find something? A maze-like store layout is no accident. It's called the Gruen effect and the goal is to maximize product exposure – to get you to buy something in addition to what you are originally looking for. In other words, to “convert browsers into buyers.”
There are other strategies at play, too. “Research shows that removing commas makes a price seem lower than it is ($1,699 vs. $1699). Consumers are also more likely to choose something at a price ending in an odd number. Retailers use the biggest number possible to label discounts (20% off a $50 vacuum seems better than $10 dollars off, even though they are the same amount) and men are more likely to buy products when the prices are displayed in red.” See all the tricks in graphic form at: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/29-psychological-tricks-to-make-you-buy-more/.
So then, if marketers are employing ways to separate you from you money perhaps the question might be (when it comes to spending habits) are you normal? AARP reported some interesting facts about this.
“Households headed by people 65 and older spent an average of $14 a month on pork and $12 on chicken. Households headed by ages 25-34 spent $16 a month on chicken and only $13 on pork. Older people are more likely than millennials to tip their waiter but less likely to leave cash in a barista's tip jar. People older than 65 spend about $38 a month on alcohol while the 35-44 age group spends $55 monthly. To see how you compare to average Americans, you can take an online Money Habits Quiz at: https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2020/spending-habits-money-quiz.html#quest1.
Of course, sometimes you just can't avoid spending money because you discover a “gotta have” product. I found a bunch of these on a list of “40 Products That'll Make You Realize Life Could've Been A Little Easier This Whole Time.” (https://www.buzzfeed.com/bekoconnell/products-life-easier)
For instance, do you have trouble keeping track of all your user names and passwords? If so, you need a password journal. “The book has a heavy plastic cover and heavy-duty wire binding. The entry pages have wide spaces, with room for website, email, user name, password, and notes which is perfect for noting the answers to those security questions.”
Who doesn't love a gooey grilled cheese sandwich? If you do, then there's an item just for you – toaster bags. These are sleeves into which you place your sandwich and then pop in a toaster. “You can get your grilled cheese fix without waiting around to flip your sandwich in a pan.” One reviewer said: “They do magic. Food is heated evenly."
There's even an item designed so your dog does not get fed multiple meals a day – “Did you feed the dog?” It's a handy device that keeps track of whether or not the dog has been fed with switches for two meals each day. If a switch is green the dog has been fed and red means not fed.
Finally, on a list of new Amazon products, I found something that is coming next year that I predict will be a mega hit – the Ring Always Home Cam. This is an “autonomous drone that can fly around inside your home to give you a perspective of any room you want when you’re not home.” Once it’s done flying the drone returns to its dock to charge its battery. “The Always Home Cam can provide multiple viewpoints throughout the home without requiring the use of multiple cameras.”
It gets better. You control it with an app on your phone. “Owners can tell it what path it can take and where it can go. It features obstacle avoidance technology to allow it to avoid objects in its path and its shrouded propellers prevent damage to property or hurting a pet or person that might collide with the drone.” You can see this in operation at: https://youtu.be/i2jFN_QEcS4.
When it comes to Christmas lists, I'll bet the Always Home Cam will be right in there with things like socks and underwear, don't you agree?