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Inside the Mind of a Manic Consumer

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Inside the Mind of a Manic Consumer
Inside the Mind of a Manic Consumer

I. Just. Can't. Take. The. Stress.

With each catalog and email the pressure mounts to buy more stuff. I cram coupons into my purse that I know I won't use (like $X off a purchase at Coach this week only)—but have to have them with me, just in case. I tear ad pages from magazines for items I “need” now that I know about them, and greedily open promotional mailers in case there's a compelling offer. Yet I get stressed out when Macy's sends four coupons and I haven't even been to the store since it sent the previous four coupons, which I'm still carrying around in my wallet. I regularly put Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons into my Mustang's console so I'll have them in case of an impromptu trip to the store—and regularly forget them until I'm done at checkout.

Last week I hit my limit. I opened a yet another snazzy, enticing promotional mailer from Bloomingdale's. “Wow, I need to go there this weekend for that bracelet and this bathing suit.” Um, no. I don't. What I need is to get myself under control. And maybe unsubscribe from a few retailers' lists.

Now don't go thinking I'm a shopaholic. I'm not. I do a lot more wishlisting than purchasing. But in some ways that's worse. All these retailers I like send all these great offers and I feel like I should use them or I'm missing out. I know I'm not alone.

The good news is that—whether or not there's a discount involved—all these slick catalogs, mailers, and emails put me in the mood to buy. The bad news is that I'm so primed to purchase that I then worry about overspending and don't buy anything. Like the temptation to polish off that third donut, it's too much of a good thing that might just go bad.

As marketers you might say, “That's your problem. You subscribed, after all. My job is to encourage you to buy—and be top of mind when you're ready to buy.” I say, “You're right. But still…a little help, please.”  For example, ask me with what frequency I'd prefer to receive your communications; several retailers did this when I went to unsubscribe and now I happily receive their less-frequent and more relevant messages. And ask what type of communications interest me; personally, I'd rather get content and learn about what's new than get sale after sale email. Don't mail more coupons until the current ones are about to expire. (Yes, Macy's, I'm talking to you.) Send less to make a bigger impact with each communication.

Consumers can only buy so much stuff, no matter how much marketers prod them. So think twice before you promote. More is not always merrier. Sometimes, less is more.

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