An Assortment of POS Displays

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s hard not to notice all the costumes, pumpkins, decorations and candy being promoted in retail stores. For many, it’s an exciting occasion surpassed in hype only by the Christmas holidays.

For businesses, it spells opportunity. But while most established brands are practically guaranteed shelf space every season, other brands either don’t have long-standing relationships with retailers or simply don’t belong in a category that can afford them the benefits (or risks) of seasonality. The alternative, if they can get into key retailers, is point-of-sale (POS) displays, which essentially function as additional shelf space for temporary promotions.

POS displays are particularly fascinating to me primarily due to their varying degrees of effectiveness in achieving the brand’s objectives. And it’s fun trying to figure out the planning and rationale behind their setup, which includes everything from what is being promoted to who the target market is to where the display is placed in-store.

Like any shopper, I’ve come across a fairly wide variety of such displays and for the most part, it’s usually pretty intuitive what the intended marketing strategy is. The most common POS displays tend to stock items in the same or similar category as those items in the aisles in which the displays are placed, promoting some new flavour, size, model, or variation of their product:

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The benefit here is that your target market remains the same. Halloween-themed chocolate for regular chocolate lovers, or a versatile stain remover to perhaps get you to switch cleaning brands. Other times, though, the promoted product need not belong in the same category, just in the same market or sub-category, as with complimentary products:

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Toothbrushes and mouthwash for your oral care needs or shavers to go with the rest of your personal care morning routine. And sometimes, you don’t even need to be fancy. Simple and obvious is all you need, as with these plentiful stacks:

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I would venture a guess that this type of setup was pioneered by Coca-Cola, who figured that all they need is a sea of red boxes in the middle of the floor to let shoppers know there is a sale going on. No need for fancy animal-shaped stands or catchy taglines; the product sells itself.

Notwithstanding the simpler POS trade promotions, there are also those which, at first glance, may seem counter-intuitive given that the promoted products and the products on shelf are in completely different categories.

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Normally you would find baby formula somewhere in the canned goods section, but this display saves new mothers an extra detour – a great way to increase customer value. As for the gum display placed beside the canned meat, I’m guessing the brand team for Dentyne figured that you will want to freshen your breath after a fishy meal.

Still, there are some promotions that are not only strange, but somewhat amusing as well.

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In the diapers aisle, I can understand the soap bars being a part of parents’ baby care needs but I’m curious about the mini plastic shot glasses. I would expect to find those closer to the plastic cutlery section or maybe beside fruit juices during the summer when it’s BBQ season. Perhaps the little cups can function as cute toys for toddlers. As for the bananas, they are not exactly trade promotions but I thought it was interesting to see their placement just outside the drinks aisle and specifically beside the energy drinks – perhaps a complementary item for athletes on the go. Plus, retailers will always look for new ways to grow all of their categories, packaged or otherwise.

But I think the winner of funny POS promotions goes to this amusing placement…

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What do you think? It’s important to note that POS displays are often intended to induce trial, so products that trigger impulse purchases work very well. That being said, I’d be very curious to see how this promotion came to be discussed and approved, and what incremental volume (if any) of chocolate almonds were sold during the period (no pun intended) in question. Sure it’s a lesser-known private label brand, but I have even seen blatant packages of Hershey’s kisses placed in the feminine hygiene aisle.

There’s no doubt that a significant amount of resources, analysis, and planning goes into trade marketing (another reason why I find CPG so exciting). Retail space is prime real estate for manufacturers and can be worth top dollar, so companies spend a lot of time trying to ensure a return on their investment, however long the promotion.

The last set of examples shown above caught my attention precisely because of their irregularity. Trying new methods opens up new ideas and possibilities and encourages unconventional thinking. It got me thinking about what other ways CPG companies can promote new breakthrough innovation and also help retailers grow multiple categories. What about putting buns and bread in the meat and poultry section to help you assemble a sandwich? Or maybe toilet paper in the cleaning products section, mixed with toothbrushes to go with all your bathroom needs. Or how about sauces and syrup in the frozen ice cream section? It’s all stuff you need for your dessert anyway. Check out this setup I recently saw at Metro: bacon bits right beside the cheese section within full view of all the fresh produce (behind the camera)  – perfect for someone looking to make a classic BLT salad.

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Paco Underhill actually advocates this type of setup in his book Why We Buy. That is, retailing and shopping not by category, but by the logical set and order in which you need your specific items. It certainly offers interest, but it would require a significant logistical rearrangement in-store for it to become a reality, and it’s unlikely to be any more practical than the way stores are set up today.

Nonetheless, I would still be curious to see how well the previously suggested promotions would work. More than likely they have already been tried and tested. Successful or not, there is always something to be learned from any marketing campaign or promotion. Kudos to companies that are willing to experiment and think outside the box.

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How Gen Y Caused Abercrombie to Ditch its Logo

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During my undergrad years, Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) was the brand that every hormonal teenager and early 20-something wanted to wear. Every piece of clothing manufactured by A&F had either its renowned moose logo or its stylish, cursive font prominently emblazoned front and centre for the world to see. When you bought an A&F t-shirt, you paid a premium because of what the logo meant – it was a status symbol. You bought into the “Casual Luxury” trend. Essentially, you were paying to be part of the cool crowd. Admittedly, I was a pretty regular customer myself. I bought into the brand and what it said about me as a young adult.

Fast-forward a few years to my lifestyle as a “yuppie” and you’ll find that I have outgrown the A&F brand, now preferring simpler, often cheaper, clothing styles. So when I learned that the now struggling retailer will drop the very logos that were built to signify luxury from its clothing, I was not incredibly surprised and it actually felt like a natural shift. The members of Gen Y, now either approaching or currently in their late 20’s and early 30’s, have shifting priorities and thus, a shifting fashion sense. This general shift has our group preferring unmarked clothing, and as strange as it might sound, saving money is now the cool thing to do. Even members of the loosely dubbed “Gen Z”, now in their teenage years, are starting to follow suit.

It’s incredible to see how much of an influence young people, such as those in Gen Y, have on business and economics. As our priorities move, businesses inevitably move with us. These sorts of trends and observations are the bread and butter of David Foot, author of Boom, Bust & Echo and a renowned U of T professor whose population economics class I had the privilege to take. In his book and his studies, Foot analyzes the effects that changes in population segments have on different economies, with a particular focus on the strength of the Baby Boomer population. The children of said boomers, coined the “Echo” or otherwise Gen Y, are projected to have a similar level of influence. The shift to which A&F is currently trying to adapt appears to me to be exactly the type of trend that can be largely attributed to population economics. That is, while the “Echo” formed a significant portion of their customer base and was key to A&F’s expansion success in the mid-to-late 2000’s, this same group is now leaving the brand and moving on to newer trends, leaving A&F with not much choice but to follow its competition.

As for whether or not A&F’s logo-removal strategy will work, I am skeptical not only because of the natural population shift previously discussed, but also because it seems inconsistent with their brand. It’s not so much that the logo significantly matters per se, but rather the associations that people make with it that matter, which is especially true for a product that is purchased primarily for its expressive benefits. In other words, customers paid to have that logo on their clothing because of what it said about their status; A&F was recognized precisely for its cool, hip, sexy, “casual luxury” style. Removal of the moose would be akin to removing the alligator from a Lacoste polo or driving a Mercedes without the tri-star displayed on the hood of your car.

Unfortunately though, the problem is that wearing snobby premium brands is not as cool as it used to be. The Gen Y individual is a savvy, resourceful consumer who now enjoys shopping more wisely and considering cheaper alternatives. It also doesn’t help that A&F has often come under significant scrutiny for its racy marketing that promotes sexualized images to teens, especially in today’s world when every action on social media and every comment made by someone with a high profile (e.g. the CEO himself) is monitored, interpreted, and re-broadcasted to the world.

So what’s the solution for A&F? Hard to say but their move towards unmarked clothing has them acting more as followers rather than the leaders they once were. With a logo or not, their best bet is to adapt to the upcoming Gen Z if they wish to continue marketing to young teens. Otherwise, they will need to explore a more mature fashion trend to retain their Gen Y customers.

 

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge and More on Why TD is Awesome

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I was originally going to write a post about recent trade promotions that I saw at various retailers, but that will have to wait for a future post because I wanted to comment on something incredible that I’m sure everyone has noticed by now – the ALS #IceBucketChallenge that has gone viral. But more specifically and in light of my previous post, TD’s participation in this phenomenal cause:

The reasons for which this video struck a chord with me are twofold.

First and foremost, it highlights the successful launch of a creative social media campaign for a cause that previously received very little attention. While critics have blasted the campaign as narcissistic and disingenuous in actually showing philanthropic concern, it is difficult to argue with the results – the ALS Association has raised over $15.6 million within the past couple of weeks, which is nine times what it usually raises within the same time frame. What I find particularly intriguing is how the campaign essentially built a new fundraising model that at first glance would seem counter-intuitive and ineffective. That is, this idea that nominated individuals either donate or avoid doing so by taking the ice bucket challenge when normally, donations are made to encourage individuals to engage in some activity (running, skipping rope, shaving their heads, etc). Yet the model has worked well beyond what anyone could have imagined most likely because individuals have in fact taken the challenge and donated anyway, and also simply because the viral nature of the campaign has generated so much buzz among celebrities and peers alike.

Secondly, the video once again highlights why TD is such an inspirational organization. We know that high profile celebrities, athletes, and politicians have all participated in the cause in some way or another, but who would have thought that you could rally an entire 100-plus-year-old corporate organization with the CEO at its helm to participate in the cause? It’s obvious in the video that there is an extensive number of people involved in filming, and to see such senior executives move such a large team to action, taking time from their busy schedules to dump ice water on their heads on a hot afternoon on Bay Street, is truly impressive. To get the CEO and 50+ volunteers to respond to a viral campaign on such short notice is not something every organization can, or would even be willing, to do. But that’s what makes TD what it is. It knows how to adapt to the light-speed pace of such viral campaigns and it truly understands how brand building works in today’s world.

And of course, the variety of #IceBucketChallenge videos I’ve seen over the past few days have successfully inspired me to make my donation. Although I’m not sure if I could actually handle dumping ice water all over myself…

How TD Makes Your Day Better

I love TD. I am a loyal TD customer. Ever since I opened my first TD bank account over a decade ago, I have been an avid enthusiast of the TD organization and the TD brand. So when I saw the bank’s most recent fan appreciation initiative, hashtagged #TDThanksYou, I was certainly not surprised by how quickly it went viral.

While most viewers can appreciate the feel-good story, what some might not realize is that this is the level of customer service that TD delivers each and every day at each and every touch point with its customers. To illustrate, let me recount to you a personal example.

A couple of months ago, I needed to transfer some funds from my RBC account over to my TD account. (Yes, I can see the irony here as someone who happens to have an account with both TD as well as its closest competitor, but it will actually further validate the point of my story.) Without going into too much detail, the amount was large enough that it required me to complete the transaction in person via a teller, so I visited the nearest RBC branch at Square One.

When I arrived on that regular weekday afternoon, the branch was relatively empty – there were only about two to three tellers on staff and only a couple of customers ahead of me in line. Perfect, I thought, as I could deal with this quickly and move on with my other errands. As I waited my turn, a staff member (who was not a teller) asked me what I needed. I figured she wanted to help me sooner instead of having me waiting for the next teller, so I told her I needed to transfer some money. She said “oh ok, then just wait over there by that counter and the lady there will help you”, directing me to the “Business Services” window separate from the rest of the tellers.

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So I went over to the specified counter and saw that no one was present. After a couple of minutes, another lady showed up from outside the booth as if she had just came in to work and asked what I needed. I explained to her my situation and she told me to wait and went into the back office. After about another five to ten minutes, she came back and asked me to insert my card and enter my PIN (pretty standard routine). It did not work. The lady suggested that the machine might be broken and told me that I need to line up where the tellers are and they would be able to help me. Starting to get annoyed at this point, I explained to her that I was directed to this particular booth while already in line for the tellers. Luckily, there was no one else in line so I was able to speak to a teller right away, but I was annoyed by the fact that I had to be directed and then redirected in a circle and if there in fact was a longer line, I certainly would have pushed to regain my rightful spot. Nonetheless, I proceeded back to the teller area.

I was greeted by a relatively older gentleman who had just spent at least the last 20 minutes dealing with the customer ahead of me earlier. I explained to him what I needed and fortunately enough, he obliged. He asked me some standard questions for security purposes as well details on my account, entering information for a whole two to three minutes into the computer for each answer I gave. Finally towards the end of our interaction, he asked for my TD account number into which I wanted to make the transfer/deposit. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring a void cheque, so I was forced to call TD customer service on the spot to remind me what my account number was, which took about another five minutes. Thankfully, TD was relatively quick and got me the information I needed. The RBC teller processed the remainder of my info and finally presented me with the page I needed to sign. But, he warned, RBC could not be held liable if the account number I gave them was wrong, so it would be entirely my responsibility to make sure I got it right. This had me slightly worried but I signed the page anyway knowing that I had done this many times before and frankly, given that I was growing pretty impatient at this point. I grabbed my customer copy and promptly left. The entire visit must have taken around 30-45 minutes.

But of course, my errands were far from done. Funny enough, I had to visit a TD branch the very same day to make a separate, unrelated deposit. So my next visit was at the Square One TD branch directly across the street from the RBC branch I had just exited. In short, my visit to TD was significantly different from the one I just had.

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As usual, there was a longer lineup at the TD branch but it generally moves pretty quickly, which it did. This time, I was greeted by a younger gentleman with a jovial “Hi there, how are you?” followed by a genuine “How can I make your day better?”. I told him what I needed and inserted my card into the reader.

He asked me the standard questions and I replied. As he entered my information into the system, he casually started a conversation with me about my day and what I had been up to. We briefly chatted about school and my vacation plans after graduation, all while he was processing the transaction. Realizing my interest in travelling, he asked me if I would be interested in the latest TD Aeroplan Card promotion, explaining that the travel points accumulated on my current Travel Visa Card could be easily converted into Aeroplan points. My only concern was that the conversion would occur at an unfavourable rate, but he was fairly confident that such would not be the case. After a couple of minutes explaining to me all the fine print, I agreed to sign up as it appeared I had nothing to lose and plenty to gain. And here’s the best part. Just as I picked up the pen, he stopped me and said “wait, actually I don’t think you’ll get your points’ worth from the conversion, let me check with my manager”. And so he did, and the story gets better. His manager, a relatively young, energetic and highly approachable lady, greeted me and confirmed her colleague’s suspicion that I was better off not signing up for the promotion (the original deposit for which I came in was already complete at this point, so the Aeroplan deal was just a bonus). She then asked me directly if I was satisfied with his level of service and to put my answer in writing, which I promptly did with a definite “yes!”. They both wished me a wonderful day and I was on my merry way. The entire visit including the lineup took about 20 minutes.

In analyzing my two vastly different experiences, I think it becomes obvious why TD is so highly credited for its impeccable customer service. When I visited the RBC branch, the staff were unorganized and painfully slow with technology. They did not smile once during the entire exchange and they made no effort to help me with any additional concerns, particularly regarding my account number. Overall, the atmosphere was very uninviting and much of my time as a customer was wasted.

Meanwhile, my visit to TD produced a very different result. The staff members are all young, lively, competent individuals who are capable of helping customers efficiently and effectively, all the while maintaining a pleasant social conversation. What truly impressed me, however, was how my exchange with the TD teller ended. He could have easily convinced me to sign up for a promotion that was actually less beneficial to me, but instead he presented the promotion without being pushy, corrected his own mistake, and made sure I left the branch feeling good about our exchange. And this is precisely what TD front line staff (or all staff for that matter) do way better than anyone else – they go the extra mile for their customers.

This is a perfect example of the generally accepted principle that brand building starts on the inside. This idea of “Comfortable Banking” for which TD has come to be known is evident in all areas of its business, not just its marketing. Every customer service representative, whether in person or on the phone, greets you with “How can I make your day better?”. Every financial advisor provides you with options in a genuinely helpful way. Every employee with whom you interact is proactive in making sure that you receive excellent customer service.

The contrast between the TD brand and those of its competitors is quite stark, as TD lives and breathes its values throughout the organization. To be fair, I do think some of the other financial institutions have made significant strides with their business and marketing strategies – in particular Scotiabank’s proposition that “You’re Richer Than You Think” and Tangerine’s commitment to helping customers save money in manner that is 100% transparent. However, it would be hard not to recognize the powerfully permeating effect of TD’s commitment to customer service and, ultimately, its brand.

A Weekend on the Magnificent Mile

As embarrassing as it sounds, before last weekend the only association I made with Chicago was Michael Jordan. Yet funny enough, I didn’t even get a chance to see his iconic statue outside the United Center – because there were many other things to enjoy in this wonderful city.

Infrastructure

After a 9-hour drive from Toronto, the first thing that I noticed as we pulled into the Windy City was the cleanliness of the streets. No garbage lying around and minimal litter, but instead elegant lamp posts, mini garden patches and relatively smooth tiling on the sidewalks. The subway system, though less clean, is a step up from that of Toronto in that it is more extensive yet not overly complicated.

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City Attractions

In the midst of all the tall buildings and shopping venues along Michigan Avenue is Millennium Park, a central hangout that features live events every Friday and attracts tourists to its renowned work of art, The Bean. Admittedly, I couldn’t resist taking several clichéd selfies in this gigantic monstrosity for a mirror.

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As the weather held up, we also visited the Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park and took a nice long stroll along Navy Pier, both beautiful attractions in their own right.

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Shopping

If you want convenient access to the biggest fashion brands, then take a walk down the Magnificent Mile. Most brand name stores have multiple floors and you can easily spend hours browsing through the variety of selection available in a single store. Surprisingly, after spending hours in Nordstrom Rack and the flagship Nike store, I came out with nothing – but only because I was able to remind myself I didn’t really need anything. Had I stayed in the city for longer than three days, I’m sure this would be a different story.

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Food

Delicious is an understatement to describe how good the food was. A review of all the amazing restaurants at which we dined can easily be a blog post on its own. From the appetizing delicacies at The Purple Pig to the double cheeseburger (which turned out to be a triple cheeseburger) at Au Cheval to my first taste of deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s to our take-home souvenirs from Garrett Popcorn, there was not a single meal that was not worth the wait. It’s not uncommon to have to wait over two hours in line for a seat and that’s with reservations, but it speaks to the high quality of the food. From a business and marketing perspective, each of these restaurants simply focuses on doing one or two things really well and that’s it. Their investment into perfecting the taste of their dishes rather than pursuing aggressive expansion has earned them a unique aura of scarcity, effectively increasing customer demand, especially from first-timers like myself. As a result, the very feeling of exclusivity and word-of-mouth that spreads is all the marketing they need.

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Other Attractions

Some of our other adventures included an early visit to the John G. Shedd Aquarium and drinks at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the 360° Chicago building (formerly the John Hancock building), where a great view of the city can be seen.

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I was also personally fascinated by the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s flagship location, which features the iconic Golden Arches as part of the building’s architecture and an upstairs McDonald’s Museum detailing the evolution of the fast food chain throughout the decades.

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Oh and this place that I only saw from outside given that it is out of my league.

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But that’s ok because next time I will make it a point to visit His Airness (that is to say, his granite replica).

The City that Never Sleeps

For the past two weeks, between job applications, interviews, volleyball tournaments, travelling and a whole host of other activities, I haven`t had much time to put my thoughts together. But here I am now as I just came back from my own dream land – a second trip to Manhattan, New York within a span of only three months. I think I’ve fallen in love all over again.

It’s hard to describe New York with a few words; you really have to be there to appreciate all the things the city has to offer. There is so much going on within such a densely populated island that there are always new things to do and to see. If I had to sum up the enjoyment of living in Manhattan, I would say it is largely experiential and incredibly fast-paced. Much of what you see has somewhat of a shock value and everyone is lining up to get a glimpse of the next cool attraction.

And as always, what better way to describe my experience than via a top 10 list of thoughts and observations from my vacation?

1. In the words of Jay-Z, the city never sleeps. At any block or intersection, you will see the same amount of foot traffic during the day as you will at night. Businesses and customers alike thrive on this level of activity and it is always extremely bright in Times Square regardless of the time of day. Even the subway is operating 24 hours a day to cater to the busy city lifestyle.

2. Every other car on the street is a yellow cab. Obviously a pretty common form of transportation and you can see that most cabs generally look the same. And they’re all standardized with fancy touchscreens, payment systems and of course, bulletproof glass.

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But speaking of cabs…

3. Most drivers have little to no regard for pedestrians. If you think downtown Toronto is bad, wait until you see NYC. Cabs will weave in and out of lanes at ridiculous speeds and emergency vehicles have a hard time finding an open lane. I would not want to drive in NYC.

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But then again…

4. Pedestrians have little to no regard for safety either. You will rarely see them wait for the walking pedestrian signal before crossing the street. You end up just following the crowd thinking “well everyone else is crossing, I guess I can cross too.”

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5. The subway system is highly complex. Here in Toronto we basically have two main subway lines (four if you include the Sheppard and Scarborough RT lines). In NYC, there are well over 20 different subway lines that all bend and curve in unexpected directions. On top of that, subway delays and route changes due to construction are quite common, so planning your trip beforehand is a must.

6. Luxury brands for a luxurious lifestyle. Take a walk along 5th avenue and all you will see are stores, hotels, and ads for some of the most premium retail brands, many of which attract lineups that extend outside the store (e.g. Abercrombie & Fitch, Juicy Couture).

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7. Flagship store galore. Times Square is prime real estate for advertising and you will see a flagship store for just about every brand you could imagine from the Disney flagship store to the Hershey flagship store to the Toys’R’Us flagship store just to name a few. All such stores offer a grand in-store experience filled with company history, extensive merchandise and cute gimmicks. In many cases, you feel like a kid in a candy store.

A life-sized Mario Kart from one of my favourite flagship stores, Nintendo World.

A life-sized Mario Kart from one of my favourite flagship stores, Nintendo World.

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Just one section of NYC’s iconic FAO Schwarz.

8. The economy runs on Broadway. You can tell from the ticket prices, the billboards, the size of the secondary market, and the industry’s dependence on star power how significant the theatrical arts are in the city. And rightfully so – I had the chance to see Wicked and was thoroughly impressed with my first Broadway play. They really know how to manage talent on Broadway.

The stage of the Gershwin Theatre, venue for the award-winning play Wicked.

The stage of the Gershwin Theatre, venue for the award-winning play Wicked.

9. Food options aplenty. I made sure to try a wide range of cuisines and was not once disappointed: Shake Shack, Lombardi’s Pizza, Maze by Gordon Ramsay, Ippudo, Eataly, Carnegie Deli. These were just a few of the must-haves in Manhattan and each of them have their own devout fan following.

The original Shake Shack. Yes the line loops around, but it's well worth the wait.

The original Shake Shack. Yes the line loops around, but it’s well worth the wait.

10. An impossible standard of living. Between paying for rent, eating out, seeing Broadway plays, paying for transportation and spending time with friends, I can only imagine how difficult it is for residents to sustain such an expensive lifestyle. Prioritization would be crucial as there are endless spending temptations that one would have to avoid.

Bonus: Garbage on the streetsThere are no bins into which residents dump their garbage bags. They simply leave them on the sidewalks to be picked up. Apparently this is normal but it’s not very pleasant when you have to walk home along a street full of everyone’s stinky trash.

All in all, I think I would love to live in Manhattan for at least a few months at some point in my life. It’s a very different lifestyle and it’s great for energetic individuals like myself. It would certainly provide a brand new perspective. But for now, I will simply continue to enjoy my vacation. I will be heading to Chicago for the weekend and will have another list of observations for you all soon. Stay tuned!

Consumer Awareness and the 40-Hour Workweek

A friend of mine recently sent me this interesting read on the 40-hour workweek.

The article came up during our conversation as we were catching up with each other`s lives over lunch after barely speaking for the past few years. Naturally, we caught up on the usual topics like careers, relationships, and future plans. From sharing how her life transpired over the last four years, it seemed she was relatively fulfilled with all the things she had the great opportunity to experience. But what stood out the most, as is pretty common with young people, was all the travelling she had done. And as a result, she encouraged me to pursue a similar experience especially because of the Western lifestyle described in the article.

It’s an interesting read for me not just because of my desire to explore the world as encouraged by my friend, but also because of my career path as a marketer, the very profession that perpetuates consumer spending. The thing is – I don’t think that this “culture of unnecessaries” as described in the article is necessarily a bad thing. More importantly, I think this simply supports the idea that knowledge is power. There’s nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in material goods, paying for convenience and gratification, and ultimately substituting our scarce time with money and spending – it’s a practical reality and frankly, as the author points out, our economy runs on it. But I think knowing that this is the reality can help us achieve a more healthy, balanced lifestyle that includes both cost-effective yet wholesome activities as well as the more financially costly guilty pleasures.

The topic reminds me of the various stories and findings discussed in a book that I’m currently reading called Why We Buy by Paco Underhill. A classic must-read for marketers, Why We Buy explores the science of consumer shopping behaviour and discusses various tactics that retailers can use to improve sales. As both a marketer and a consumer, I have this neat dual role of being sparked by the interesting strategies presented while understanding that I can also “fall” for said strategies.

But once again, none of these strategies are bad per se. As Martin Lindstrom points out in discussing the ethics of neuromarketing in his bestseller Buyology (another great read), a hammer can be used to bludgeon someone over the head, but when put in the right hands and used for the right purposes, it can be a useful and productive tool. My thoughts exactly on the nature of the 40-hour workweek lifestyle and the related marketing strategies employed by companies that support our economy. Our awareness of the strategies protects us from their misuse and abuse, but also informs us of their potential positive use.

So while I don’t think our 40-hour workweek culture will change, I do think we can be armed with sufficient information to spend in moderation while also pursuing gratification through more wholesome activities.