merchandising 101 (not for the faint of heart)

i am particularly sensitive to the manipulative & coercive (not redundant) merchandising utilized by chain stores.  if i’m going to be manipulated, for heaven’s sake, put a little finesse into it; be gentle, tease me, play with me, just don’t beat me over the head with your tactics.

the most egregious example is our local cvs pharmacy on coast highway in laguna beach.  it is the “electric kool-aid acid test” come to brilliant, candy-colored life.  the forced perspective of the aisles, the hysterical colors (hyper-realism), the bland carpeting/tile/fluorescent lighting mimicking the direction of the aisles all leading you to some alleged nirvana, in this instance the liquor department.  it’s enough to make you want to drink.

in a desperate attempt to make your visit drag on & on & on, they display a roman legion of cards for every imaginable event in one’s life (unless, of course, you’re gay, then you’re left with making do with heterosexual imaginings of love, marriage, death; trust me it is different.)

the bible anchors a tower of babel of literary choices as you wait in line to pick up your life or death pharmaceuticals.  they care about your spiritual well-being too!

& while you’re waiting to pick up your medications, you can slip quietly into the ‘family planning’ aisle & root for your home team (go USC!) buying every kind of trojan (oh? they’re not associated? oh my, there goes that analogy, wilted like a spurned lover.)

what i refer to as the ‘no-thinking-required’ aisle.  are we really this shallow?

i guess we are.  now, i’ll give them this:  they are located directly across the street from one of laguna’s most popular beaches & who wants to read some crap about how our world is dissolving into a vortex of war, poverty, taxes, tea-bag parties, famine, war, nuclear warheads, oil spills, natural disasters (earthquakes! volcanoes! planes falling from the skies!) dissolution & bankruptcy when you’re laying on the beach & all those bodacious babes are parading past your little square of paradise?  harumph.

but then, but then, i turned the corner & men were on sale!  something for everyone at only $6.99!  smiling, handsome, white men & the lone african-american sports celebrity hawking youth! vitality! women! no one will know! our little secret!  you too, can score a lasting (or fleeting, it all depends on you!) relationship with just a little hair/moustache/beard coloring.  who could refuse such a world of promise?

i left cvs with only what i needed, glad to escape this madness and headed south on coast highway homeward bound.

4 Responses to “merchandising 101 (not for the faint of heart)”

  1. 1 Loretta
    May 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    You are in the same wave length I have been in lately. How often do we see it on the web? I know we have been through the “label only” generation, but it is insidious in our society. We are programmged from cradle to grave and lately it has really been nagging at me, how much of what I purchase is really my choice or my choice because of what I am programmed to purchase. I don’t have a lot of discretionary income to be sure, but what I do have, I want to check myself and once I get past the first question of is it a “want or a need?” I have to go to the next question – if you can justify the want, is it my want or what I am told that I want?

    I never used to be one to even enjoy shopping, but somehow that all changed for me back in the late 80’s. Suddenly I wanted to shop and shop a lot. But over the years, you do learn that experiences are far more lasting than items you have purchased.

    The shopping was really a way to distract my mind from other things many times. I still will go to a 2nd hand store after work some days, just to decompress and get my mind on other things. Lately I have tried to replace that with walking the dogs with my camera in hand. Now that the hot weather is upon us in the desert, I will have to find something else to distract me — and quite frankly, often Tumblr is it. But then I wonder how constructive that is at times when I could be quilting or drawing or writing or or or … You get the idea.

    Still and all, there’s something very compelling to me about blogging and reading and viewing others’ blogs. I think it can plant the seeds of creativity if only I would have more follow through.

    This is my vow and solemn pact for this year — put some of those thoughts into action, down on paper, into something a bit more tangible. I live in the abstract and in the intellectual realm often because I do live alone. This allows one to evade being productive for great periods of time.

    Check back with you in six months and let you know what I have come up with — thanks for being on the same mind track so many times. Thanks for inspiration, food for thought, pause to ponder, my internet friend —

    Harvest Heart

    • 2 robtpatrick
      May 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

      for shopping without guilt, i recommend stores where the merchandise is so expensive you can’t afford it or they’re selling things you absolutely don’t need or want. they’re the ones that have the innovative & creative types putting everything just so (saks fifth avenue & bloomingdales are personal favorites)…& that can be inspiring. but i hear you about putting thought into action. the writing has been wonderful for me, personally, it’s made me happier (oftentimes.)

  2. 3 Woolie
    May 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    It looks exactly like our CVS in suburban Ohio. Except I’ve never seen the God book spinner in any of ours around here. Oh, and we don’t have liquor as it’s against the law. All roads lead to the pharmacy–hillbilly heroin is all the rage, from what I hear.

    • 4 robtpatrick
      May 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm

      when it changed from whatever drugstore it was to a cvs, they came in & remodeled & i knew right then that there was a corporate giant merchanise v.p. in charge. i have to admit i like the hanging signs that they use, thought the colors & design were pleasing.

      p.s. god & liquor go together.

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