Wednesday, January 29, 2014

in them days we was glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

Looking at most everyday products, stuff like light bulbs, car insurance, bleach or any of the other myriad of products that one doesn't reasonably choose to buy or not, product x is easily substituted by product y.

More often than not these will be purchases driven by things like habit, price and whether or not we have heard of the brand.

These would be what we might call utilitarian purchases.

With these type of things there's likely to be very little narrative constructed by the buyer around the activity.

If, on the other hand, the product in question is more 'unnecessary' or hedonic, some gizmo or other - probably expensive, there is a greater chance the buyer will create a story for themselves, usually about how said gizmo fits in with your self-image.

This helps you rationalise the fact that you had to choose the item, then spend some significant wedge on it.

Choosing one thing over another thing requires a narrative about why you did it.

Knowing this it's easy to undertand why certain premium brands appear to benefit from greater brand 'loyalty'.

These buyers are not necessarily more loyal, they have just had to construct a better post-hoc narrative to convince themselves they made good choices.

We'll tend to display a consistency bias - in which we will modify future behaviours to be in line with what we have previously said or done.

For most brands, the majority of sales come from the huge volume of people who might only buy one or twice a year. Not the hardcore loyalists.

This is because very few people are 100% brand loyal in any given category, I'm no exception.

Except when it concerns tea.

It was not always this way, but given the opportunity, ie the availability, I'll now only drink Yorkshire.

Things changed.

Yorkshire was among the preferred choices in the UK though, in line with the duplication of purchases law we were also perfectly happy with Tetley's, PG Tips or even M&S own brand on occasion, and depending on physical availability.

On coming to Australia the tea situation was different. The most popular brand, I'm guessing as it occupies the bulk of shelf space in the supermarkets, was Liptons.

So upon experimenting with the brand leader first, we unfortunately came to the realisation that it was rank rotten.

Others such as Billy Tea and Twinings Australian fared no better.

Then one day at the British Butcher shop out in the eastern suburbs a source of imported Yorkshire was uncovered.

But at $25 a pop for box of 400 it was now firmly in the realm of hedonic purchases therefore requiring a better narrative to rationalise the purchase.

Henceforth, the tea was now in the same bundle of 'taste-from-home' category purchases that included black pudding, tattie scones and square sausage, to be enjoyed once-every-now-and-then.

For many months that same ritual was performed, until now, and Yorkshire appears to have been incorporated as a line in one of the major supermarkets.

To be on the safe side, and feeling my scarcity bias kicking in at lunchtime today, the pictured bulk purchase was made, also not lightly influenced by a price framing effect as $3.50 for 100 significantly kicks the arse of 25 bucks for 400 .

So now with a utilitarian price point and a hedonic narrative it's all win on the tea front, for now.

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