Forces of Change

Need does not equal want

As shoppers, consumers, and New Zealanders, there are a lot of things that we buy or do that we feel compelled to do and if we are honest don’t really want to.  We replace our toothbrush regularly, we put petrol in our cars, we pay the electricity bill, we get life or health insurance.  Marketers call these purchases grudge purchases. Mostly because if you had a choice, you probably wouldn’t choose to spend money on them.  Even when you know it is good for you.


Compare the feeling of buying some new shoes or a shirt, with the feeling you get from paying your insurance bill…..pretty different huh? Yeah well us marketers are very aware of that.

Within the grudge purchase category there is a subset of products that not only do people not want to pay for, but they don’t really care about, until of course they need it. For example, you know buying petrol or paying for your electricity bills means you can drive your car or turn your lights on. So while it is a grudge purchase, you care about it, even if you may not care which company you buy it from.

But insurance? You only care if you have to claim, any other time you probably don’t even think about.

So how do marketers get you interested when you are not? Often they ignore their own product and find out what you might have shared interests in. For example, banks don’t often talk about how good their mortgages are versus other banks, or that their money is better, they talk about how they can help YOU be better. Take Westpac and BNZ, both trying to teach you how to be good with your money, or encouraging you to start now on creating a better financial future.

Life insurers are the same. They want YOU to be healthy, and so do you. So they get involved in wellbeing, asking you to take charge of your life, or get out and be healthy.

Sometimes they even add on things, like Fly Buys points – to offer a sense of reward and make it feel like you are getting something more for your mone

This isn’t really any different from how you make friends. You don’t tend to tell people you meet all about yourself (if you do, pro-tip, don’t), but rather you find out what you have in common, what you both care about, then talk about that.

Is it bad that companies take this approach? Not usually. As with all marketing you choose how you respond to it. And if a company finds something that makes you care, and as a result your finances are a little better, or you get healthier, and you also happen to choose one company over another, then maybe that’s okay.

Chris Lamers

The author Chris Lamers

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