Framing the Dialogue

Marketing (mahr – ki – ting)

Marketing is defined as:

  1. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

Synonyms:  vend, merchandise, peddle

Notable Quotable:

“Never… ever suggest they don’t have to pay you. What they pay for, they’ll value. What they get for free, they’ll take for granted, and then demand as a right. Hold them up for all the market will bear..”

Lois McMaster Bujold

Can you give an example?

Example 1:  This first example and the muse for this posting came from my cupboard and my interest in cooking.  Most recipes call for at least a pinch of salt.  Until a few years ago this meant the white stuff found in the round container with the little girl with the yellow umbrella.  Generally found on the bottom shelf at your grocery store you can still get a pound of salt for not much more that a quarter.  It hardly seemed worth it for the Morton folk to mine, package and ship salt for that price.

As I started watching cooking shows I noticed that many of the cooks used Kosher salt.  I don’t know what the difference is beyond the absence of iodine, but I bought some.  It was only slightly more expensive.

Out of the sea arrose sea salt.  It is still salt, but came in large cyrstals that were again more expensive and I had to buy a grinder.  In my mind it tastes different, but it may just be in my mind.  More recently I was visiting my local Penzey’s Spice store and purchased some French Grey Sea Salt that costs over eleven dollars a pound.  I only bought a quarter pound mind you, but that is a lot for salt…even French salt.  I do believe that it actually tastes different.

My next purchase and if my will power holds up my last was some pink Himalayan Sea Salt.  This actually came with its own grinder.  Per pound it was cheaper than the French stuff (if you discount the grinder), but I cannot taste the difference.

The marketing effort for salt has been brilliant.  You can still get the regular, old-fashioned from the bottom shelf, but many are drawn to the upper shelf products.  This is even more brilliant considering the parallel health campaign to reduce salt in our diets.  I think salt wins.  Take a stroll down the snack-food aisle and count how many products brag about seasoning with sea salt. 

Example 2:  This was in my mind the most brilliant marketing effort EVER.  If you were to have been told growing up (if you are over 40) that you would pay three dollars for a bottle of water you would have thought the person was nuts.  The first bottled water that I remember was Perrier from France.  It was quite a deal when it first hit the market and many tried it as a novelty, but most blue-collar folks quickly passed.  It still is around today, cheaper and still bubbly (sorry sparkling).

Fast forward a couple of decades and you would be hard pressed to find an American home that does not have some bottled water.  There are so many types, sources, flavors, fancy bottles, and healthy variations available.  They are all basically just tap water put in a container after being “treated” through some not-to-fancy process to remove chlorine and its taste.  My guess is that the cost of the bottle far exceeds the cost of the product.

I think many people believe that bottled water is safer than tap water.  That only makes sense if you ignore the fact that the chlorine is in your water to kill bacteria.  When you remove it to get rid of the taste you also remove its function.  Where to bad things like to grow?  Warm, moist environments sort of like in a bottle of chlorine-free water.  I don’t want to panic you because there is bacteria everywhere and that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  We cannot live in a germ-free world.  If you know your history it was the “healthy” country boys who probably had a greater chance of death from disease than bullets.  They just weren’t exposed to as much as their urban colleagues.

I think the novelty of the fancy bottles has worn off for most average folks.  I still buy it for my family because of its convenience for lunches.  I tend not to buy in the summer since we all have water bottles that hold tap water.  Marketing continues to blurr the issue and a web search using “bottled water” with “tap water” often provides results form proponents of both sides.  It doesn’t matter because like gas prices about $2.50, bottles water is here to stay.

Example 3:  Another very slick marketing campaign gave us our 44th President of the United States.  Barrack Hussein Obama is perhaps the least qualified man to have ever held the office.  His resume is quite thin, yet those who ran his campaign and the media who ignored his inexperience were able to avoid in-depth investigating of his background.  A lot of folks are convinced that he is not an American citizen. 

It is not just Obama, politicians are products of marketing…hidden marketing.  Can you name a politician (left, right, or middle) who you would trust with your child’s savings let alone their life?  I think that Americans first voted against Hillary in the 2008 primary elections and then against Bush in the fall.  Slick Barry just happened to be positioned by his handlers in the right place.  How is that working out for us?  Sadly I don’t think we would be faring much better with the other guy although our VP would be more attractive.

One CommentsLeave one

  1. Kevin says:

    I’ve actually been in the market for white truffle sea salt because I heard is tastes excellent on scrambled eggs with a dash of Tarragon. I haven’t found it at either Whole Foods or Giant Eagle Market District, but I still have my hopes up to pay for overpriced salt with little flecks of fungi.

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