Most consumers are aware of the crafty marketing ploys companies use to get us to part with our cash, most notoriously the hard-to-resist smell of fresh baked goods in supermarkets. Yet while we know all about tricks such as this, along with brightly coloured money-off signs, multi-buy offers and clever wording on packaging, many of us still fall for them.
I recently came across a stall in a shopping centre called Magic Corn. It was a while before I actually got a proper look at it, what with the ever-present crowd of customers waiting to get their hands on a pot of it.
My curiosity grew and my imagination began to run riot. The word "magic" conjured all sorts of exciting possibilities in my head, from a 50p cup of super-tasty, low-fat, bursting-with-vitamins corn to Harry Potter-induced fantastical imaginings of transforming into a unicorn the moment I ate it (the clue was in the name, right?)
When the initial hype surrounding this purveyor of enchanted corn finally ebbed, and I was able to see what was actually on offer, I was more than a bit disappointed.
What the crowds were lapping up was nothing more than hot sweetcorn, sprinkled with seasoning and served in a small, polystyrene cup. And it cost £1.50. In fact, the only magical thing I could find about the enterprise was the fact it was raking in so much money. A tin of sweetcorn costs 23p for roughly the same size, and a whole jar of seasoning costs about £1.
"It’s hot, it’s convenient and £1.50 won’t break the bank!" I hear you say. But it’s an example of fierce marketing at work.
At least Magic Corn wasn’t downright misleading, unlike one offer I saw on a group-buying site.
Its "virtual gastric band" turned out to be a distance-learning course in hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (a psychological technique used to try to change behavioural patterns, such as over-eating). What a farce!
As a member of the deals team, I could list plenty more examples that demonstrate the lengths companies will go to in order to sell you their products, but I think I’ve made my point.
Always know what you’re buying, consider the possibility of getting it or making it cheaper, and don’t be taken in by misleading marketing. For more tips on avoiding falling for cunning campaigns, read our Supermarket Shopping Tricks and check out our guide on Cheap Online Shopping.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or in the forum discussion.