Just how much are we being manipulated when we go shopping? According to Martin Lindstrom in Fast Company, a lot:
Let's pay a visit to Whole Foods' splendid Columbus Circle store in New York City. As you descend the escalator you enter the realm of a freshly cut flowers. These are what advertisers call "symbolics"--unconscious suggestions. In this case, letting us know that what's before us is bursting with freshness.
...Consider the opposite--what if we entered the store and were greeted with stacks of canned tuna...?
Well, I like canned tuna, but I get the point. Lindstrom is the author of Brandwashed, and he's hip to a lot of the mind-gaming tricks retailers play on us:
Speaking of fruit, you may think a banana is just a banana, but it's not. Dole and other banana growers have turned the creation of a banana into a science, in part to manipulate perceptions of freshness. In fact, they've issued a banana guide to greengrocers, illustrating the various color stages a banana can attain during its life cycle. Each color represents the sales potential for the banana in question. For example, sales records show that bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (otherwise known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (also called Buttercup), which is one grade warmer, visually, and seems to imply a riper, fresher fruit. Companies like Dole have analyzed the sales effects of all varieties of color and, as a result, plant their crops under conditions most ideal to creating the right 'color.' And as for apples? Believe it or not, my research found that while it may look fresh, the average apple you see in the supermarket is actually 14 months old.
I'm actually relieved to know that retailers and grocers are thinking about this stuff. I guess we're all supposed to be creeped out by how well they know us, and how ruthlessly they exploit our need for the perfect color banana or the freshest looking produce, but for some reason I'm not. It's comforting, in a weird way, to know that they're all actually competing to make us feel good.
No one at the Post Office does that.