Would you like fries with that? This classic add-on has infiltrated most levels of retail marketing and gone one step further with the assumption that consumers want all the extra options and need to cancel the ones they don’t require. This insidious technique begs cynicism and disgust as targeted marketing preys more and more on the vulnerable and less educated.
Social media has enabled computer algorithms to define these markets with an incredibly high degree of accuracy and vendor access has been optimised through exposure analysis.
Never has it been more critical for the consumer to exercise his only weapon, the ability to refuse. The list is endless of hidden extras, auto top-ups and camouflaged opt-outs. ‘Caveat emptor’ indeed.
The profit motive, if unchecked, will consume everything in its path for the holy dollar and this new level of sophistication presents a sinister and ruthless scenario where consumers have bought the book but can’t afford the chapters.
A tiny example of this is the illusion that canned fish is a healthy source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Little do consumers realise that this vital component is extracted via centrifuge before the fish are processed and the nutrient-rich oil is sold separately in capsules at over ten times the price of the remnant which is then soaked in vegetable oil.
Computer printers are sold for less than the price of a replacement cartridge, food labelling is a craft in deception and in consumer contracts the large print gives it all away while the small print takes it all back.
Consumer watchdogs can only do so much, public awareness needs to be extended into the classroom as this threat to our future good economic health is fast becoming a rival to drugs and STD’s.
‘How can I help you?’ has fast become ‘How can you help me?’. Blithe rhetoric of ‘ask not what my country can do for me but what can I do for my country?’ is a call that will increasingly fall on deaf ears, as the main prerogative of an increasingly disillusioned society shifts to the 2 tier response of the rich getting richer and the poor getting the picture.