The Christmas Cup-Off

Well lads it’s that time of year again, C H R I S T M A S (cups) – get your Mariah Carey playlists pumpin and dig out that Christmas tea towel you’ve lying at the bottom of your third drawer. If you listen carefully, you can almost hear Michael Bublé doing his warm-up.

First of November marks the start of the countdown, and what better way to start than with beautiful festive coffee cups??

Me and my ma had a competition going to see who could spot and photograph (trust no one) the first Christmas cups of the year. The prize (aside from the pleasure of winning) was the winner got taken out on a coffee date by the loser. And there’s me always say I’m strictly anti-gambling, I know. The HYPOCRISY of me.

Well – I won. I saw ELEVEN Starbucks ones in town on the 1st but couldn’t whack out my phone in time, but finally captured the red cups in action on Tuesday (thank you, Caitlin for bringing in your Starbucks to the lecture).

But me and Claire aren’t the only ones having a Christmas cup competition, the coffee shops are, too.

It’s like a Christmas cup-off in the coffee shop world; if you don’t have them, you could be losing out on customers. Let’s be real, we all go somewhere purely for the novelty of the cups this time of year. People go into cafés and ask for a takeaway cup even though they’re sitting in (and not just because the takeaway’s are bigger) and parents ask for cups for their children (I know this is true because my ma does it for me). Little do the baristas know that “my wee girl” is 21, not 5.

It’s a race to see who can release them first (usually Starbuck’s, and Caffé Nero last) and who can do it best. Yeah, fair, people actually want the drinks inside, so I guess nailing the menu is important too, but the real winner is the winner of the cup design.

Not a fan of Starbucks but their cup game is strong

See, you don’t have to go for a fancy festive drink, you can get your bog standard americano, but give it a wee bitta razzle dazzle with a Santa cup. It’s a simple way to get in the holiday mood, without having to drink an eggy, cherry-y or gingerbread sugar-bomb concoction. Dentists, rejoice.

Companies need to NAIL their Christmas drinks campaign, and not just to attract customers with their coffees and cups. What’s the whole point of branded cups – Christmas or otherwise? Brand reinforcement. You need a distinctive cup so when people see that cup on the train, in people’s hands or used as an ashtray on someone’s windowsill (classy), they know who’s it is.

See a Costa cup, *subliminal message received*. Want a coffee? You didn’t but since you saw that woman with one, you’re kinda in the mood for one. Sure why not nip into the Costa round the corner there, you deserve it. Don’t want one? No problem. Sure just REMEMBER that Costa cup, retain the brand name and place it at the forefront of your mind so when you think coffee, you think Costa. Just visualise that cup, v i s u a l i s e.

So having a Christmas cup that really grabs attention is ESSENTIAL. Why do you think there’s so many ads for them? Companies need to shout about their fabulous crimbo cups (and drinks, I guess) so that when you see a wee Rudolph, Santa or Christmas tree cup, you know where it’s from. Christmas cups aren’t normally in the brand’s colours or style, so they need to make people aware that “hey, we look different, but it’s still us”. Not that Clements need to do that because the grinches that they are keep the same grey cups all year round – bah humbug.

So, lads, the Christmas cup-off is ON – but only one can win. Who are you voting for?

Beans are Beans – Why Buy Brands?

Okay, this has something which always confused me. What’s the craic with people buying branded food? I don’t get why people pay so much more for a branded food item, when there are loads of cheaper options available. Like why would you want to spend more?

Y’all at Tesco

I’m a student, yes, but that’s irrelevant. Even if I had the money to buy branded foods, I still wouldn’t, because I really don’t see the point. “The branded ones are nicer”, well okay but I really don’t think having a “nicer” tin of sweetcorn is going to seriously improve my life to be honest. But thank you anyway.

I’ve always wondered how big brands still do so well, because supermarket own brands are available left, right and centre. I know back in the day, that this wasn’t the case; it was either buy the big brand or buy nothing. Brands were the only real option when doing your shopping. But nowadays, pretty much every food item comes in a cheaper version. There’s even several TV Shows like Eat Well for Less, which encourage people to switch from expensive brands and try cheaper alternatives to save money. 

Right, maybe I’m missing something here, but why would you pay £1.50 for a loaf of bread when you can literally get one for 36p? I buy it. I’m not dead yet, it’s decent bread like. It’s not really salty, makes a nice wee sandwich, and is UNREAL toasted. So why would you pay £1.14 more for BREAD? Like, I seriously don’t get that.

People buy branded products for the assumed better quality. But how important is it? How important is the quality of a tin of chopped tomatoes? Is the 28p tin going to absolutely destroy your precious spaghetti bolognese? Is the 80p tin going to make it taste like Gordon Ramsay made it himself?

That’s the thing, people assume. “You get what you pay for”. That’s a brilliant wee line, which brand’s marketing department came up with that one? It’s not true like. How many times have you bought something that wasn’t worth what you paid for it? Probably a lot more times than the price was justified. “You get what you pay for”, that, that is the thing keeping big brands in business. That’s their mantra. They depend on people thinking that to justify them charging more.  

Some people don’t “need” to save money and can “afford to buy the big brands”. Good for you, congrats on your financial situation. But surely there’s something you’d rather spend your money on? Something that’ll last longer than the 5 minutes it takes to eat?

Maybe it’s for some kind of self-fulfilment or something, I don’t know. Maybe it makes people feel good in a way because they feel like they’re giving themselves the best that they can? “I’m treating myself to the finest baked beans money can buy” or something like that.

I mean, it has to be to impress and please yourself, right? Who else cares? Unless you want the sales assistant to think, “Wow, he’s living the high life. I wish I paid £4 for a box of corn flakes. I aspire to be that man” as they beep your shopping through.

For some, it’s a habit. They just buy whatever brand they grew up with. They didn’t have the supermarket own ones when they were younger, so they’ve just kept buying the same ones they always have. They grew to love that brand, and its food. They think “I’m not going to like any other ones as much as these ones”, but sure why not try others and see if there’s one you like just as much?

Of course, it’s your money, you can do what you want with it and you don’t need a 21 year old telling you which loaf to buy.  

Youse to me right now

I’m not saying ‘boycott all big brands’, I’m just saying, why not give cheaper ones a go? If you’ve tried the supermarket own brand version and you really hated it, fair enough. But I don’t see why people don’t even consider them. What have you got to lose? 36p? Sure what’s that compared to the £1.50 you were going to spend anyway?

Rant over. Sort of.

Another thing I don’t get, and which confuses me even more, is why people buy supermarket own brands, but buy the dearer version? Let me clarify, supermarkets normally have a few own brand ranges: the regular range and the value one. There’s the finest one too, but like, that’s for people who do stuff like host dinner parties and eat cheese as a dessert. Madness.

Grapes. Let’s talk about grapes (now you’re excited, aren’t you?) You can get a 500g packet for £1.06, or, you can get a 500g packet for £2. They’re both Tesco’s own. One is ‘Suntrail’ and one is ‘Tesco’.  Same colour, same weight, same use by date. Just dropped a nice wee rhyme there, hope someone noticed. So what’s the difference? The price.  

I mean, you can’t really say that one range tastes better because not all grapes are created equal. Some are nicer than others. Sometimes I get a packet which is UNREAL, and sometimes they’re just standard grapes. But does this only happen with the cheaper ones? Can you categorically say that every individual packet of Tesco grapes is nicer than every single packet of the Suntrail ones? Despite being a different variety, from a different supplier in a different country, picked at a different time of the year? Really? You sure?

Now, just going to throw this out there, but I reckon people buy the more expensive ones for the packaging, not the actual food.  Hear me out.

Tesco reinvented their value range. It’s no longer ‘Tesco Value’; the products don’t come in plain white packaging with Arial font. Instead, they’ve got ‘Suntrail Farms’, ‘Grower’s Own’, ‘Neville’s’, and ‘Stockwell’s.  They’re all Tesco’s own version, but different categories have different names and different branding. And they come in nice colourful packaging with a funky wee font and logo and all. Lovely.

Why did Tesco do this? So people don’t feel like they’re buying the ‘cheap, budget option’. It gives the impression that they’re still buying a brand. Neville’s? That’s a brand. Grower’s Own? Also a brand. A cheaper one made by the supermarket, but a brand nonetheless.

This is because for some reason, people are embarrassed to buy own brands and value ranges. There’s this sort of stigma that if you buy own brands, you’ll be seen as cheap or stingy or poor. And to be honest, that’s a bit disgraceful like. People shouldn’t feel ashamed for buying cheaper food. It’s the same way people get embarrassed and hide the stickers when they buy ‘reduced’ items.

Did Tesco change the recipes? The food product inside? No. Just the packaging.  Because they know that the packaging changes how people view the product. From we’re no age, we’re told, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, so why isn’t this the case for food? If it tastes nice, what difference does it make if the packet looks ‘boring’ or ‘cheap’? Just gonna come out and say it, y’all are shallow.

P.S – This post was not sponsored by Tesco, I just shop there so know the prices. Although a wee giftcard wouldn’t be turned down.

Why Do People Buy Brands?

I was sitting in mass last week (how all good stories start) when a woman sat down in front of me who was wearing a Michael Kors bag. I just looked at it and thought “how much did she pay for that bag? And why?” (It was either ponder this or the gospel according to Mark, yikes). This was just a plain black over the shoulder bag, nothing you couldn’t get in New Look *screaming in background*, except without the fancy name. Why did she spend £500 on a handbag? Is it better quality? Will it last longer? Or was it simply so people could see she could afford it?

Me thinkin’ ’bout how she afforded that bag

To be fair, I grew up in a house that didn’t really do “brands”. I own no “designer” brands, I never have – unless Missguided counts? I ~thankfully~ avoided the whole Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch phase in third year (yeah you should be scundered) and never had Vans or Converse when they were the IN thing. All the guddies I own are wee cheap ones from places like Primark or Boohoo, and the same goes for my clothes. My logic has always been “why buy 1 top for £50 if I can buy 5 for the same price?” Which is probably why I ended up with 67 tops at one stage even though I only wore 4.  Anyway, the way I see it, I’d rather have a cheap purse with more money in it, than a designer purse that’s nearly empty.

If something is a certain style or design, that only one brand really does or specialises in, then fair enough – I can see why people might want to fork out and buy it. But I seriously don’t get branded clothes that are literally just plain clothes with a logo on them.

I mean, I don’t really get the concept of paying extortionate amounts of money to advertise a brand for them? Surely they should be paying you? Wearing clothes with obvious branding kinda makes you a walking billboard. I get it from the companies’ points of view, I mean why pay models to promote your clothes when you can get consumers to do it free? But I don’t really get why consumers choose to do it.

Is it the association that if you buy and wear designer brands that you have money? (Even though you’ll not likely have much left after spending £120 on a pair of guds). Like are we still in that “having money makes me cool” or “will impress people” mindset? “I can afford this and others can’t”? Truth is, others can. We simply choose not to. I could technically afford a £20 pair of Adidas socks, does that mean I will or would even consider it? Hell to the no. I could buy 10 5-packs of primark ankle socks for that price. 2 socks vs 50…hmmm tough one.

Me after my Primark sock haul

But surely the whole “showing off” thing can’t come into play here, because who’s realistically going to see the logo if it’s hidden under your trousers? So then why buy them? Are these socks so superior and the best quality that will last me longer than any other type and not shrink in the tumbledrier? What actually makes them so special to justify costing so much more than the competition?

“I buy them because they’re comfy”; “they’re good quality”; “they last ages”; “I just like them” – all valid reasons. But unless they’re 5 times comfier, better quality or last 5 times as long, why pay 5 times the price for them?

See, people don’t wear branded clothes, they wear brands. It’s not just a top, it’s an “Adidas” top. Not just a bag, it’s “Michael Kors”, those aren’t sunglasses, they’re “Raybans”. People don’t just buy branded clothes to wear them, but to be seen wearing them.

If designer branded clothes didn’t have logos on them, would as people still buy them? You like that top? Cool. Would you pay £50 for it if it was made by Nike but didn’t have the logo? Would it still be “worth” the £50 if people couldn’t see it was Nike? Hmm I don’t know. Do you reckon people would still spend £475 on Louboutins if they didn’t have the red soles?

So pretty but so not worth £525

When a leading shoe brand release a new pair of guddies, and a high street shop releases a similar “copy cat” version, why do people feel embarrassed to be seen in these “rip offs” or “fakes”? If you’re buying something for the design and appearance, then what difference does a wee tick on the side make? I doubt the lack of logo somehow makes it hideous looking.

I’ve seen it myself – schoolkids making jokes and digs at friends who have these copy cats. But what’s so funny about buying cheaper goods? If I can buy the same thing you have but for £60 cheaper, surely I should be laughing at you? This peer pressure drives some people to buy brands purely to fit in, regardless of whether or not they actually like the goods. Like no harm but there are some ugly shoes out there that wouldn’t be popular if they weren’t made by a designer brand.

If Boohoo invented these designs, would they still be worn? I really wish they had, would save me having to lay my eyes on these…things. I think it’s sad that we live in a time when who made it is more important than what they actually made. Like don’t even get me STARTED on iPhones.

But that’s me, and that’s my preference – I always have been a cheap and cheerful kinda gal. Which I guess is why I don’t understand people who choose other wise. I’m sure I’d think differently if I was brought up thinking that brands actually mattered, but I wasn’t so I don’t. And I’m perfectly happy this way, buying and wearing “cheap” things – I don’t want to be “branded”, I ain’t a cow.

Moo

How to Lose Customers and Alienate People

Have you ever entered a competition or giveaway online? Probably. Well, why not? You might win; someone has to, right? Wrong.

When you enter and don’t get that notification or ‘tag’, you assume you haven’t won and someone else bagged that takeaway or voucher. Lucky son of a gun. Disappointing, isn’t it? Well, would it make you feel any better if I told you that maybe no one actually won it? Yeah, thought it might.

Recently, a lot of brands have started doing “giveaways” and competitions on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. “Simply ‘like’ and ‘share’ or ‘tag your friend that you’d share it with’ for your chance to win”. Now, it’s not exactly a news flash that this is just to increase engagement, activity and interest among consumers. It doesn’t just promote the “prize” product, but the brand and all of its products. Pages you don’t follow come up on your feed because your friends or followers have commented, shared or tagged you in posts (I’m flattered you’d take to me to the spa with you, Amber – much appreciated). And why shouldn’t they? There’s no harm in it. It’s a win-win, really. Brand gets publicity, attention and sales; consumer gets free goodies. Sounds pretty g to me.

I see these competitions and giveaways all the time. I personally don’t enter them because I don’t want a “munch box” that clogs your arteries just by looking at it, and sadly, I don’t exactly have good luck (or any luck for that matter) when it comes to these things. So I just keep scrolling and don’t think anything of it. But the other day, I noticed something th.at annoyed me a wee bit: companies do these “giveaways” but without the whole, ya know, “giving away” part. Basically, there is no winner. Hmm, maybe I’m not unlucky after all.

Over the past week, online retailer Missguided launched several “giveaways” – how to win? Simply comment an emoji representing your favourite of the two items shown. One came up on my newsfeed, so I thought “eh, may as well enter and see”, so commented (the pink was definitely nicer, I can’t pull off baby blue). “Enter by midnight.. Winner announced [the next day]”. So the next day, I checked their profile to see who the winner was, or if they’d been announced yet. Nope, nothing yet. So I checked a few hours later, but still nothing. By 10pm, still no joy. The next morning, they posted another one. “Winner announced tomorrow”. “Maybe I’ll win this one” (grey was a better option, I’d just get the white one boggin’). Tomorrow came and went and still no winner. But they continued to post about other products and memes, as well as launching ANOTHER competition. You see where this is going. Didn’t even bother entering this one, not just because I wouldn’t suit either outfit, but because I caught on to what they were doing and so was huffing on them a wee bit.

I was right, I didn’t win the competition. But no one did. So, why did Missguided do it? Why choose to misguide consumers? *pause for laughter*. Well, this is a shot in the dark, but the 10,000 comments, thousands of likes and hundreds of shares might have something to do with it. Show people a product – one they wouldn’t have otherwise seen, because they weren’t on or going to go on your website and see it there. Now that they’ve seen it, they like it. If they don’t win it, they might decide it’s worth the £25 anyway and buy it. May as well. Just because they didn’t win it, doesn’t mean they can’t have it.

How many of these items did Missguided give away? 0. Now, how many do you think they sold? How many people saw the items? And how many would’ve seen them otherwise? How many new followers did get as a result? You sort of have to follow the page to find out the winner, like. Then, there’s the people like me who went on the page specifically to see who won, and ended up seeing other items being promoted. Their new Playboy range launched in the meantime (yeah, I didn’t know it was still a thing either). Chances are, some of these people clicked links on the posts to see these items. So, chances are, some people ended up buying something. It was payday week after all. Yeo.

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I really hope the collection’s not like this

Now, I’m not just singling out Missguided – I’m guessing they’re not the only ones who have used or are using this promotional ploy. They’re just the only ones I’ve actually seen. Lucky duckies.

These fake giveaways are a great way to boost user engagement and activity. They’re a great way to increase sales of individual items. They’re also a great way to have a blog post written about them. But they’re not a great way to build a reputation. Lies, unfulfilled promises and unmet expectations – what a fab way to portray the brand!!

If someone wins a product and likes it, they’ll probably buy from that company again. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but that won’t happen if no one wins the product. Just another slight flaw to the plan. Apart from people actually catching on to what they’re doing.

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So, hats off to the social media and marketing teams out there who do this (especially the ones who don’t get caught). Credit where credit’s due, gaining sales without losing merch seems pretty smart. But, gaining a bad rep and losing trust – and potentially customers, seems less smart.

If consumers don’t trust you, they won’t buy from you. And something tells me that’s a bigger price to pay than giving away a free playsuit.

So, chapeau to the companies who actually give away products. You deserve your likes.