First, can I make it absolutely clear that if you were to take a peek through my kitchen shelves you’d see that I am not a generic-ist. Some of my very bestest tins are own brands, Tesco value, budget buys and the like. I even have a brother who hangs out with a girl who works in a value brands factory.
So this is not a pop at the consumer, I am not trampling on customer taste and I’m clearly, not having a dig at a person’s financial status. I am having a rummage around at something else.
Just looking at the card, makes me think of the ‘every little bit helps’ slogan and wonder, who does this little ditty of a sound bite actually serve? Is it the consumer or the shareholders? Am I glimpsing into the yin shadow of tag lines which all supermarkets love to embrace?
What deeper thought processes lurk beneath a supermarket’s corporate smile and its patronising, proprietorial pat, pat on our money box? How way down low can supermarkets go? And are they hung like donkeys with the emissions of a horse?
I laugh at this saucy biblical reference, Ezekiel 23:20 – and I am not a Biblic-ist either- because, from my perspective, big supermarkets on the whole, on the slack and on the shop front, behave and exercise a carefully measured display of business confidence coupled with swagger overspills, dressed up with the feigned humbleness of a local store. They are neighbourly like, loyal and try to be there for you, sometimes 24/7. Meanwhile, we forget about the area manager’s salary that would make our eyes water as they stealthily distract and arrogantly precision bomb us shoppers with consumer seduction missiles that gets us parting with our money with such astonishing ease. Jekyllhyding. And when we part with our money en masse, well, they pop their corporate cork. Meanwhile, the local farmer’s balls are strung up, I dunno, somewhere.
Just look at the card.
I came across this while looking for some stationery in this popular supermarket. I showed my daughter. ‘Yeah, I know’, she said, ‘that’s old. Been around for ages. Where have you been?’ Where have I been? Well, obviously not ‘there’. I did chuckle for a few moments at the card. But before long, I had gone through a highly likely, well-trodden thought process. I’m going to get this for someone. They’ll see the humour. Or will they? Is it that funny? Maybe they’ll think I’m being a cheapskate. Perhaps it’s not the best way to honour someone’s birthday. I know, I’ll get a proper card and then give them this one after. But then, am I trying too hard to be funny? Trying too hard to be funny is not funny. I’ll buy it- ka-ching- and think it through later- I’ll get change from a pound so it’s not a great expense (there go my pennies). Oh! I get it, it’s for irritating brothers and sisters to send to each other, until mother sees it and says, ‘that’s not a proper card, go and get another one’, ka-ching.
So, this is it- I bought it and have bottled out on giving it to anyone, least they feel offended. But did I need to buy it? How many people like me have bought it but never used it? And who is its target audience? Is it a lame version of James Colman’s English mustard’s success? Coleman claimed he only made his money through what people left on the sides of their plate. Oh, I am so fed up with all this consuming malarkey; I am so full up on hungry.
So, here we are- I bought it and have bottled out on giving it to anyone, least they feel offended. But did I need to buy it? How many people like me have bought it but never used it? And who is its target audience? Is it a lame version of James Colman’s English mustard’s success? Coleman claimed he only made his money through what people left on the sides of their plate. Oh, I am so fed up with all this consuming malarkey; I am so full up on hungry.
When I look at this card, I am definitely seeing the flip side to the saying, ‘look after the pennies’. I hear some corporate tie, sitting around a table, saying, ‘let’s cast a line out on the ‘value foods’ idea, Why don’t we print our slogan on things other than food? Cause it’s sooo funny, and sell the idea? Then we trawler the money we’ve just helped customers save the first time. The value brand concept is a nice little turnover.’ So when they claim to be looking after your pennies, well, they really are.
So who is having the last laugh here? Supermarkets make so much money from us – I won’t go into boring statistics here, you can find that yourselves or better still, just look through your purse. Shake it. Can’t hear anything? Does it feel lighter? Have your cards got skid marks on? That’s because Mr.S has probably been in. And you only went in for a pint of milk.
This card, representing the ‘every little bit helps’, psychology has done an 180 degrees; the implication that the supermarket is so concerned with the consumer holding on to its precious cash, however small it is, and that they are trying to give a helpful hand in this by competitive cost cutting, has now been turned. Yes, every little bit of your hard earned cash helps, especially into their pockets and they’ll tease it off you whichever way they can, even after –no – especially after they see you at the checkout for the big shop once a week: they cast their nets wide.
Isn’t it funny? I hear Mr Tie ask, ‘seeing our generic value logo on a birthday card, like a family crest. And are you laughing? It’s so funny, isn’t it? ‘Cause they’re all laughing back here. Boardroom, shareholders, managers; finding it so very funny.
Corporate again: ‘Only we’re not laughing with you. Oh, and we’ve tried to be transparent about that as well, have told you many times but your shoppers’ complacency is our gain. So we’re not doing anything underhand. We’ll take your money- it’s true, every little bit and all that. It’s just we’re not laughing with you. But we are laughing. We are.”
Or is it just me who thinks like this?