27 Comments

  1. Mark Jackson, thanks for linking up the identification of that SFPC, which I belatedly see doesn’t actually appear in the comic.

    I think we’ve previously discussed the change in how that strip feels when broken out of the “Sunday funnies page in miniature” format and printed as a separated feature, one by one as a daily strip.

  2. Powers, on the one hand I want to say something like “But that’s the joke”; but OTOH I agree with you that something doesn’t let this work right.

    I think the problem is that , even though the two scenes have those labels of BEFORE and AFTER, the drawing leaves it looking like a single scene, with two competing stands standing right next to each other, prices posted quite visible to all potential customers.

    As two scenes, from different times, then indeed the joke would be that saying “Wholesale” gives the impression of “cheaper” (just as in ” I can get it for you wholesale” or at a further dark step “These TVs fell off a truck!”) — so much so that people don’t consult their memory of a month ago, or do any comparison shopping. But if it is a single scene, with two lemonade stands, then comparing prices is not hard, it’s right in-your-face, and the magic of the word “wholesale” evaporates

  3. The lemonade panel would have worked for me if it said “Artisanal” instead of “Wholesale”.

  4. But what’s it got to do with “perception”? Seems like it’s all to do with marketing and outright lying.

  5. I just don’t understand some of the comments on the lemonade stand. Do you guys think “perception” has to mean “natural, spontaneous, uninfluenced sensing”? Nah, it can and generally does include “the way you end up perceiving things, as you are led to do”.

    Woozy: But what’s it got to do with “perception”? Seems like it’s all to do with marketing and outright lying. The effect — intended effect — of the marketing and outright lying is that the public will perceive the $1.00 lemonade as a good deal, because wholesale is cheaper.

    Mark M: I have to agree with Woozy. People see wholesale and think it must be cheaper. Yes, people see wholesale and perceive it as cheaper — that’s exactly what perception has to do with it.

    Honestly, I just think you guys are kind of contradicting yourselves! Show me how I’m wrong?

  6. We have “wholesale” “warehouse” “clubs” around here. You would recognize the names if I told you. They are “clubs” because you have to have a membership, typically $50 a year. They are “warehouse” because they look like warehouses, with forklifts to get the stock off the high shelves. And they are “wholesale” because you can’t buy a pint of milk; the smallest container is a gallon.

    They also sell snowblowers and air conditioners — for the same price as the local hardware store. The groceries really do have good prices, cheaper than the supermarket, but not the snowblowers.

    But on the other hand you don’t have to buy wholesale quantities of snowblowers. You can buy just one if that’s all you need.

  7. The shelf-storage containers (probably recyclable if they had to be retired) are getting snooty about the disreputable single-use-plastic (i.e. not recycleable) containers having a high ole time in the kitchen.

  8. Couple decades back, I witnessed in Brasil two competing coconut water stands in the middle of a popular running/biking trail selling fresh green drinking coconuts, where they machete your coconut open for you, in which the one with the higher prices had the line, and the one with the cheaper prices had no business. I took it as a sign of everything that’s wrong with Brasil: Conformity, non critical thinking, going with the crowd; the product in this case was completely fungible fresh green coconuts, no brand names involved, and yet people still lined up to spend more money. Other observations of this trend: everyone watches the one TV station, Globo (to the tune of like 80% viewing figures every night — I think the final episode of MAS*H in the US managed a record breaking 60%), even though there were three competing stations showing shows of equal quality; everyone listening to the one top forty pop radio station (conveniently called LiderFM (as in “leader”, not “Lieder”)), even though there was a dial full of others of equal quality; people voting for the perceived most popular candidate, so as to not “waste” their vote (had many frustrating arguments with my future father-in-law on that one…); and my personal favorite, someone paying dear money to have jeans brought in from the US, only to find when the tailor opened the seams to do some alterations, the etiquette “Made in Brasil”…

    (I can of course also explain all my examples when I’m feeling more generous: even though they can make good quality stuff in Brasil, they usually only make it for the export market — still a problem, but the everyday consumer on the street is wiser to crave stuff from overseas; democratic elections are mostly important in being a violentless way to transition power, so it doesn’t really matter who gets elected (it’s not an exercise in wisdom of the crowds!), so just as long as everyone is happy with the process, and don’t resort to violence, if it makes you happy to vote with the crowd, go for it; if you’re all going to be watching the same types of programs or listen to the same types of music, there are nice network effects when everybody is watching/listening to the same ones at the same time — my much vaunted individualism is really just a manifestation of the same thing, expressed differently: I am a free thinking individualists, just like everybody else…; and in a country that has a corruption problem, it is wise to see where most people buy stuff and get services, as that place is less likely to be cheating you, or at least you are more likely to get what you are looking for, and high prices are often a signal that I can afford not to be corrupt because I earn enough from the high prices I charge…)

  9. Does your volteface to the more generous explanations also have a story for the fresh coconut water sellers?

  10. larK: I’ve seen streetcorners with multiple gas stations, with 10 to 20 cents per gallon difference between one and another, and the pricier one has lots of customers, I’ve never figured out why.

  11. This is kind of OT, but when going into built-up truck stops or rest stops in Canada, there is always a line up for Tim Horton’s, and often an empty Starbucks a short walk away.

    However, being from Canada, I totally get this.

  12. Mitch: the last bit about price signaling quality and following the crowds to get the good stuff was the explanation: how do I know the coconuts are any good? Go where the crowd is. How do I know the coconuts aren’t adulterated somehow? Take the more expensive seller, he’s less likely to be resorting to those types of tricks since he’s already making a good profit. They aren’t perfect, mind you, but when everything around you is questionable and gov’t can’t ensure things cause of corruption, you go with what you have.

    Ed: it could be one corner is easier to get to, or has more traffic naturally, so that they can afford to charge more because the market on that side of the street will bear more. There’s a shopping highway near me where rather than hope customers will be able to turn around a visit the store that’s on the opposite lane, many stores instead have branches on both sides of the highway — including a couple years back when books were more of a going concern, Barnes & Noble.

  13. Ed: Could also be that one has the link to the local grocery chain with discounts based on points. Ours is Shell, and they’re often a dime or so high, but with the discounts, they’re cheaper. And I have the points, so might as well use ’em before they expire. But yes, it’s baffling.

    There’s a corner near us with not only opposite stations, but the same brand (Exxon, I think). While I realize they’re likely owned by different franchisees, one might think the mothership would say “No”–but with traffic, one is busy in the morninng and the other at night, so it does make some sort of sense.

  14. “Mark M: I have to agree with Woozy. People see wholesale and think it must be cheaper. Yes, people see wholesale and perceive it as cheaper — that’s exactly what perception has to do with it.”

    You’re right Mitch4. I apparently didn’t fully comprehend Woozy’s comment. I meant that I agreed with the 2nd part – that it’s quite a marketing scheme, which does indeed change people’s perception.

  15. Same-brand gas stations on opposite corners makes sense. I always prefer to make a right turn into a gas station and a right turn out. So I’ve driven right past gas stations on the other side of the street. I wouldn’t be surprised if the two Mobil stations get twice as much business as one alone would.

  16. I am reminded of the outlet malls. Originally, those were exactly that. Factory seconds or items that didn’t sell. Now the companies make cheaper versions specifically to sell there.

  17. I totally get it, Stan. I’d far rather have a Tim Horton donut than any coffee.

  18. Mark in Boston – Spent 4 and a half hours in one of those warehouse stores last week and that was our 3rd trip of the week. We needed new tires for our RV (Chevy van converted to same). First trip – we went in to buy vitamins and spoke to the about the tires they were not sure if they could do the tires as no longer changing tires on RVs, so had to bring in for them to look at. Second trip – we brought the RV there for them to see and ordered tires. Third time went for them to change the tires. Problem is that they cannot put on the regular lift as there are 4 plastic water tanks (2 clean water, one grey water, one black water) and a generator under it. Tires have to be changed with it on jacks.

    So we went in for them to switch tires. Stopped in once after we finished our slowest ever walk around the store – including areas we normally do not bother going to. Not ready yet. Left cell phone number to call if problems/when ready. After walking the circuit twice more we went out and it was sitting there finished – they had not bothered to call us.

  19. I buy tires online. They’ll ship them to your house or the place that will install them.

  20. Brian in STL – thank you. We know about same. We rarely – almost never – have luck with ordering anything and will only order items if there is absolutely no other way to get the item.

    This past December Robert ordered Christmas gifts online from a major online company for his 2 nieces (only family we still buy gifts for) and had them delivered to his sister just to be able to get gifts to the girls. He ordered at the start of December with a week delivery time. The “free” delivery did not apply as they were coming from 2 different locations so they cost almost 1/3 more with the delivery added. The gift for the grown niece arrived within a week – the gift for the young niece, who it was more important to have the gift there for actual Christmas, arrived just before New Year’s Eve – and this is one of the more successful “we ordered it” stories.

    With the tires, we then would have to find someplace to install them and accept delivery of them – as there is no way we could lift one of these BIG tires. If there is a problem with the tires we have to ship them back. By buying them at the place which installs them – in this case Costco – if there is a problem with the tire received or later with the tire or installation – it is their problem to deal with fixing for us.

    We have bought tires from them several times before with no problems, including late last year for our car. The big problem was dealing with the weight and limitations in how they could lift the RV. I also think they just forgot to call us when it was ready and when I suggested going and checking – Robert said it would make them upset that we were checking on them. (It was much easier to get things done at home and away when he still went to work.)

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