Consumer Blindness

Every so often I give myself a lifestyle theme. I've done this for a few years because it is fun, it challenges me to think before I buy, and he helps my wardrobe match more easily. Plus, it helps with the problem of consumer blindness.

What is consumer blindness? Consumer blindness is a term I just made up moments ago to encompass the following 5 syndromes common to the consumer. These are also the five I encounter most often in my own shopping experiences.

1. Price Blindness. Easily the most dangerous form of blindness. This happens when you put on a pair of jeans that fit pretty well and are $20 so you get really excited and buy them. Then you get them home and try to put an outfit together and realize the cut is all wrong and the wash is horrible. The low price has blinded you to the reality of the item. If you are lucky you can return them, but if not, hopefully they make good jean shorts.

2. Desire Blindness. This happens when you really want something to work that just isn't. For me this seems to happen a lot with button up things and belted items. I wear, but am still not sure about, skinny jeans for this reason. Do they really look good on everyone? I'm skeptical. I really love menswear looks, especially the crisp-buttoned-up-shirt-with-a-great -pair-of-jeans look. That said, I'm very curvy and they never really work well or fit right. But sometimes, if I really love something enough, I will manage to convince myself that the item works and buy it anyway. This goes against the very important 'dress for your figure' rule that I swear by, and always results in disappointment upon the first wear. Or the 9th, in the case of a great pair of skinny jeans (Kenzie, $24. See #s 1 and 5).

3. Funny Blindness. This is what happens when you see an item that doesn't fit well, you don't need or really want, and will likely not use, but you find it so amusing you have to buy it just to have it. To show people how hilarious your taste is. Or to look at it later and laugh again. Funny Blindness is a very powerful tool in the gift industry. This is a close cousin of Sentimental Blindness.

4. Sentimental Blindness. This is what happens when you see something and you really relate to the sentimental message, and/or it makes you feel sentimental about someone. This is one of the most important parts of the gift industry as designers count on the consumer feeling as if they relate to the message of the product, thus making it the 'perfect gift'. Unfortunately this often results in the gift getter wondering "what on earth to do with this thing" and then feeling too guilty to get rid of it or throw it out. In clothing, Sentimental Blindness is the reason you find yourself wearing an ill-fitting concert tshirt that was $50 or a horrid xmas sweater your mom gave you.  (My mom doesn't give horrid xmas sweaters, thankfully.)

5. Brand Blindness. Even those of us who swear they "aren't into brands" (such as myself) have moments of weakness. I recall a story from a friend who was shopping with her brand-loving sister. There was a pair of Tommy Hilfiger shoes on for $20, and the sister insisted my friend buy them, as they were her size. But my friend was not the Tommy Hilfiger type. It resulted in the classic in-store debate, "...but they're such a good deal!", "but I don't like Tommy Hilfiger!" I suppose in this example it is close to Price Blindness, but there's a heavy dose of brand loyalty in that example too. Some people will buy things just because they are a particular brand, authentic or not. I know for myself, I'll always try on Calvin Klein. Always. Not sure why. Sometimes in Winners I'll carry around a $150 LeSportsac bag. I never buy it, but I want to. It's a nylon bag!!! Clearly, no logic will allow me to buy it, but I want the brand. I don't know why. Weird. Brand loyalty is bizarre and fascinating. It is funny how you might buy either Colgate or Crest, depending on which is cheapest, but you might never buy Nike sneakers and instead prefer Adidas. Everyone is blind because of brands in some way. Mac, meet PC.

If all 5 blindness factors combine, you're in big trouble. Well, I am, anyhow. So, this is why I assign a lifestyle theme. Past themes have included Grandma Punk, Tennis Pro, Hot Red, and this spring Equestrian Metrosexual hit me like a tonne of bricks. Ok, ok laugh. But I think challenging yourself to think creatively about the style decisions you make ads another level of consumer blindness avoidance. It challenges you to think about how the item will fit into your existing lifestyle, instead of just how it makes you feel in the moment of buying it. After all, psychologically speaking, we just buy for the feeling we get when buying.

In case you are wondering, Equestrian Metrosexual didn't really stick. Turns out, that look was more a problem of desire blindness then a successful lifestyle theme.
(all pics are from my Polyvore)

Now, watch Don Norman give an amazing talk about why good design makes you happy (and makes you buy). - From

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