Wanted: Binge consumers

curb your consumption
CC BY 2.0 --- LIZ ---

Stores try a lot of tricks to keep you coming back. A dollar off on milk? Only if you have their customer loyalty card. You know they are tracking you. Not just with that card, but on social media, through your online purchases, maybe even via aps you use to find or manage your stuff or brag about it.

Every so often, company practices raise a hue and cry -- such as when one big box store targeted some male customers based on shopping habits that predicted the men were pregnant. Then the din dies down and corporations go back to what they do best: marketing to us.

One model often used to analyze customer data goes by the name RFM:
  • R is for Recent - when did you last shop there?
  • F is for Frequency - how often do you shop? and
  • M is for Money - how much 'monetary value' do you represent?

A new study published in Marketing Science suggests that a fourth parameter may be important to predicting a customer's lifetime value. The authors of the paper show that binge shoppers buy more over the long run. They call this type of shopper "clumpy" and add C to the old model to create a new RFMC model.

But can we turn that around? If the science proves that binge consumers are better customers, it makes sense to curb our binge behavior if we want to manage our resources more carefully -- both to save money and to reduce our footprint on the planetary systems.

This also means the binge shoppers are the ones who can make the easiest improvements to reduce consumerism. We all know that binging-regret feeling and recognize that binging usually does not represent smart shopping. Studies show that creating an online shopping list by pinning your wants can give you the same consumer rush that buying the product does -- and that most people who pin their wish list don't ultimately buy those products, or regret not having them.

So don't let them trick you into buying stuff you don't need. Use the marketer's science to make marketing fail. Keep your R, F, M and C all low.

Wanted: Binge consumers
Can we learn how to consume less from the studies suppliers use to sell to us?

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