Dilbert - people getting stupider


The simple corner shop has literally become a labyrinth of manipulative options designed to baffle to the customer until maximum wallet extraction can be achieved. And today’s Black Friday is not just the celebration of that merchandising, but also the pinnacle of retailer manipulation to confused and befuddle shoppers out of their money.

The Cassandra of complexity, Scott Adams, illustrated this marketplace mayhem in his post “I Want My Cheese” (it also puts into context one of the most misguided ecological initiatives of banning plastic shopping bags)…

  • “Then I start looking for cheese, only to discover that some genius in Safeway’s marketing department thinks that cheese should be spread out over about seven different locations throughout the store. You have your cottage cheese here, your artisanal cheeses there, your shredded cheeses somewhere else, and so on. There is no logical order to any of it. Five minutes into my shopping, I am filled with rage and I feel manipulated. I assume someone at Safeway decided that inconveniencing me would somehow make me buy more shit because I end up walking down every frickin’ aisle in the store looking for my cheese. It’s not the inconvenience that bugs me so much as the feeling of manipulation… By the time I reach my car I feel frustrated, angry, guilty, stupid, incompetent, belittled, weak, humiliated, ripped off, and inconvenienced. The feeling lasts until I get home and my wife says, ‘That’s the wrong cheese.’ That feeling pretty much replaces all the other ones.”

The worst example is our local Nottcutts. They have contrived a quarter mile long one way system to force you to examine 90% of their shelves before you can get your birdseed and check out with it. They force you to walk a 100 yards from the parking lot to the entrance to starts this onslaught odyssey while prohibiting you form entering the shop at the big set of doors right by the lot.

Seth Godin has his own tirade on this commercial contrivances in his post “#BlackFriday = media trap”: “Retailers offer very little in the way of actual discounts, they expose human panic and greed, and it’s all sort of ridiculous if not soul-robbing.”

And for a comprehensive treatise on the Black (Box) Arts of shop front manipulation, check out Paco Underhill’s fine book ”Why We Buy”…

“You almost have to make an effort to avoid shopping today. Stay out of stores and museums and theme restaurants and you are still face-to-face with Internet shopping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along with its low-rent cousin, home shopping on TV, Have to steer clear of your own mailbox, too, if you are going to duck all those catalogs. As a result, every expert agrees, we are now dangerously over-retailed – too much is for sale, through to many outlets.”

Un-Happy Shopping everyone!