Have you ever bought something because that’s what you always buy? Of course you have. As a consumer, we buy hundreds of different products over the course of a month, and most of those things we purchase because it’s what we’ve always bought. Who wants to re-evaluate every item they use on a regular basis? I know I don’t. Even my kids know which kind of tortillas, milk, and yogurt we purchase regularly.
In fact, that was the biggest challenge when we started eating healthier and eliminating things from our home like chemical cleaners and Teflon. Almost every shopping trip I would be staring at my options with my kids in the stroller while they waited for me to hurry up and make a decision. A lot of those decisions are hard. Sometimes it’s hard to find a product that fits all of my criteria. Who am I kidding? It is nearly impossible a lot of the time. Once I find something that might work, then I have to figure out what is the most important thing about that purchase. Do I care more about organic, non-homogenized, or raw milk? There’s also the fact that there are so many options after you have decided on what is most important. It makes my brain overload sometimes if I have to think about the best choice for too long. I’m just being honest here.
A few weeks ago I went shopping and brought home a can of coffee beans, among other things. The first thing out of my husband’s mouth is, “Why did you buy those? We don’t like those.”
“Yes, we do.” I say
“No we don’t. You bought them before and they were gross.”
Were they gross? I wondered. I made coffee the next day and confirmed that he was indeed, right. My coffee was nasty. To top it off, I now had this huge can of coffee beans we had to use. Ugh. I tried to remember why I had bought them. I remember looking at the 20+ options I had and running through some criteria:
Whole bean? Check.
Fair trade? Check.
Not super expensive? Check.
Brand I recognize? Check.
The package looked familiar, so I grabbed it and brought it home. The only thing wrong with this scenario, is that it looked familiar because I had bought it before, not because I liked it. I walked around the house that afternoon and saw an empty can of the same coffee beans in the kids’ playroom. I had saved it to put small toys in. Later on, I noticed yet another can in the living room that also had small toys in it. I didn’t just repeat buy this same coffee once, but twice even though I didn’t like it. What on earth?
I thought about it; I had been staring at that packaging in my house for months because I had saved those cans. Even though I didn’t like the coffee, I kept buying it because it looked familiar. Subconsciously, I was making the same decision based on something I recognized. I had created a habit to the benefit of a company that made a cruddy product. Surely, this is not the only time this has happened, even though this is the first time I noticed it.
It’s hard, especially when you are shopping with four kids, to think about every single purchase you make. I hate to think that it is so easy for me to get stuck buying something I don’t really like though, merely because I can’t spend the time picking something better. For that matter, anyone have a brand of coffee they love?
Have you ever bought something out of habit even though you didn’t really like the product? Please tell me I’m not the only one!