One of the lesser-appreciated joys of online shopping is that, in the process of streamlining and compressing the expressions of capitalism we call “retail,” it gives us a god’s eye view of market patterns. In one search on Amazon or Newegg you can see a category’s past, present, and near future: high-margin luxury options on one side, low-margin or out-of-date good-enough options from unlikely or unknown brands on the other. Then, in the big mushy middle, brands fighting over a diminishing opportunity. This is faintly empowering. To watch the compressed cycles of modern consumer electronics pass through your viewfinder gives a calming order to an industry that depends on the perception that it is perpetually exceptional. This perspective also helps to enforce realism about your relationship with consumer electronics. Whether you choose the luxury option, the commodity option, or something in between, you are buying future garbage.
The consumer fallacy the tech-sector surrounds us with is that the progress we need comes in upgrades.
All these people, telling stories about the stories that their things tell about them.
Shopping for shoes is largely free of body anxiety associated with clothes shopping.
Never thought of that. I remember asking a woman I used to work with about the allure of shoes. Her response, “It’s like a little sculpture. You can put it in your hand and look at it and it’s just perfect.” She’s an artist, so that might be a natural response, but I still think about it years later.
Campbell Soup Company is tapping Andy Warhol for another 15 minutes of fame. I’m not surprised that Target is involved in this.
If you sit on, sleep on, stare at, or touch something for more than an hour a day, spend whatever it takes to get the best.
Just in time. The Wirecutter is wonderful.
Mechanical watches partake of what my friend John Clute calls the Tamagotchi Gesture. They’re pointless in a peculiarly needful way; they’re comforting precisely because they require tending.
Hack #3: Buy Luxury Later. If you’re broke like us but still really like performance and leather interiors, consider getting a luxury car that’s 5-6 years old. More luxury owners want newer models than older ones leading to a pretty steep depreciation for the first few years; the average new E320 loses about $12k per year no matter the mileage (112 datapoints). Compare this to the depreciation curve for a Camry: the car holds value like people *want* to drive it into the ground. Crazy! (1,523 datapoints).
I think it’s an expression of our old hunter-gatherer module. I think that’s the module that lights up for everybody on eBay, regardless of what they’re looking for. It’s the flea-market gene. It’s hunting a bargain, sometimes. But when I went through my “watch process,” at the end of it I realized it was about information, about trying to master a body of fairly esoteric knowledge, regardless of what it was about. For somebody else it could have been hockey statistics. It wasn’t really collecting; it was about getting the knowledge.
Extreme couponers, if you count the value of their time, basically make a modest living doing below-minimum-wage marketing work for the coupon-based marketing universe that welcomes them as raving fans.
From the point of view of the stores, far from being hostile opponents in some asymmetric game of chess, these are merely cheap and committed marketers. They are encouraged to model, in extreme ways, the very couponing behaviors that the marketing machine wants others to emulate in less extreme ways.
Which is exactly what happens. So long as you and I casually clip and use coupons, inspired by the extreme couponers in our midst, the grocery stores still comes out on top. If the extreme couponers’ leadership behavior were to actually lead to large-scale loss-driving sedition by too many customers, the store could easily staunch the losses overnight, by making minor changes to coupon-redemption rules.
I hadn’t thought about it this way.
Perhaps you should consider consuming less, but consuming something special. Prioritizing something that pays a person who is creating a product that approaches art, rather than approaching widget.
I never understand why a company would put pointless music and animation between my credit card and their business.
A thoughtful, elaborate gift guide from an enthusiast. Great ideas here. And I like this bit at the end: “There is as much snobbery in what food people won’t pay for as in what they will”. Also applies to people in general.
Greg Mankiw’s Blog: Pricing in Venezuela. “Precio Capitalista”. I’m thinking about a trip to Venezuela next spring.
Engineers of immersive retail must understand that we buy things when we are bored and not when we’re excited, alive, and metaphysically horny—that these feelings are just promises to get us in the door.
On the recent Esquire pants-size exposé:
Retailers’ facilitating the illusion that we are thinner than we are is a by-product of their chief goal, which is to force us to try on every item of clothing we are considering buying and let the endowment effect work its behavioral magic. Trying something on invests us in completing the purchase to a much greater degree—we’ve gone to all that trouble already and want something to show for our effort—and it also habituates us to the idea that we already own the thing we put on, and to not buy it feels as though we have lost something or had something taken away from us. So the sizes are just very vague guidelines to help us know which items to take to the fitting rooms.
A modular bike for gettin’ groceries. It reattaches to the seat/rear wheel when you hit the road again. Fixed Gear Gallery :: Grogery Getter Contest Submission. (via)