Sunday, April 03, 2005

Forgive them. They know not what they're saying.

The Sunday Paper.

In our neighborhood, it's 2, maybe 3 pounds of dead tree.

Killing trees for paper isn't all bad.

Dead trees revolutionized the world. (The printing press).

Dead trees keep the world informed (Good newspapers).

Dead trees provide interesting diversions (model airplane instructions).

Dead trees keep our hands clean (towlettes).

Dead trees make wealth portable (checks, paper money).

Dead trees can be good.

Again, our Sunday paper is 2-3 pounds of dead tree.

Coupons make up about half a pound.

Half a pound of coupons.

Multiplied across the world, there are a lot of trees dying to be coupons.

If you're going to die for something - it'd better be important.

Today - like any other Sunday paper - the half-pound of coupons were trying hard to be important.


Buy one, get one free...

Buy one, get one for half price...

Two for one...

Any large for...

First-time customer offer...

Oil change for...

They're all saying the same thing.

"I'm not worth regular price."

Long John Silvers™ gave no reason to buy their battered fish/chicken other than a "deal."

Pizza Hut™ gave no reason to buy their pizzas other than a "deal."

Vitamin World® (Gotta' hand it to them for clarity in naming) gave no reason to buy their world of vitamins other than 50% off.

Pearl Vision® gave no clear insight (pun!) into why their glasses were worth anything other than 50% off.


Just a "deal."

It's like the Koi Pond (expensive, huge goldfish) at the Omaha Zoo - hundreds of bloated fish gulp $.25 handfuls of pelletized fish food thrown from entertainment-hungry visitors.

Kind of like coupons, only it's hard to tell who's the fish - the merchant or the consumer.

But the message is clear.

Feed me.

Feed me.

Feed me.

Merchants take note - are your products worth more than a discount?

Customers take note - are your values worth more than an cheap price?

The price of advertising is not cheap, even at $.0275 per insert. In case you're curious, franchise systems can take as much as 15% in advertising and promotion dollars and give back out the same - if not more - in discounts. And all the while, very little useful information is provided other than the visual noise of prices, offers and calls-to-urgency that expire in 30 days.

Very little information, indeed.

Would you like to know why Long John Silvers™ is a good place to eat?

Would you like to know why Pizza Hut™ deserves to be included in the entertainment budget?

Would you like to know why Pearl Vision® is a good place to get glasses?

Would you like to know...?

Merchants who rely on a heavy coupon strategy would do well to search deeply about the integrity of their business.

Consumers who base their choices on coupon strategies would do well to question their value systems - Price, Quality, Service; pick 2.

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine brought a concept called "Peak Oil." It's the idea that oil consumption will reach a point where the supply is no longer sustainable at low prices, resulting in ever-escalating oil costs and a crash of the world economy.

In the discussion, we wondered what businesses would survive and which ones would fail.

Interestingly, the ones that we figured would survive were businesses we valued for their service, their quality, their value.

But never their cheapness.

Never the discount.

I'm not much of a "Peak Oil" apocalyptic. I fell asleep at 10:30pm on the night the Millenium Bug was supposed to destroy civilization. But if Pizza Rodeo® can't make it without a $9.99 blahblahblah now, how will they survive when delivery-car gas is $10 a gallon?

Our Sunday paper is 2-3 pounds; half of a pound are coupons.

A lot of trees died for those coupons.

What they had to say wasn't worth much.