From Kate Newlin’s Shopportunity!, page 66:
We respond to their logic. Why? Because we allow ourselves one bargain at a time to lose our ability to evaluate the relative merits of a gallon of pickles at whatever price. We have become addicts, based on genuine changes of biochemistry. We no longer search for the perfect “thing.” We’re trolling for “the best deal.”
Using Wal-Mart to define all that is currently wrong with retail shopping is nothing new—it could almost be considered trendy. But Shopportunity! does more than take shots at the retail giant. Shopportunity! is about our endless quest for savings and about what it’s cost us individually and culturally. It’s a book I’m sure I’ll return to.
It’s scary to read the excerpt above in the context of online shopping, where Wal-Mart is just one of the many businesses competing for your shopping basket. What happens to customer loyalty when your competitors are a single click—instead of a parking lot—away? The service industry looks more and more like something from “the good old days”; our kids will use our stories about the local hardware store to prove that we’re old and out of touch.
The Shopportunity! excerpt above also speaks to something that feels a lot less anachronistic, but is often conspicuously missing in action—the desire for great, lasting things that we love and enjoy, things that say more about us than “we got the best deal”. And that’s our goal at Wize, to help people find the best products fast. Not the cheapest products, and not the best deals, although customers who submit reviews certainly have overall product value in mind. We use Wize Rank and the Wize100s to find products that inspire us, and products that will last. Because we’re buying MP3 players and baby strollers, not pickles.