Our world online

The internet is an invention that has changed the way we live nearly 180 degrees from what we used to know. It has changed the way we get news, interact with others, perform daily tasks, and even how we learn. Without the internet, the society that we have formed around it would literally not be possible. The dependency on this invention is beyond comprehension, and consumers arguably use this creation more than most other things that we use in our daily lives.

The capabilities that the internet gives us are of the sky’s limits. All the way from the most high priority doings, such as launching a missile from a remote location, down to turning off the living room lights when you’re 100 miles away and you realize your mistake, the internet controls our lives. The days of dial-up capabilities are almost a speck in our rear view mirrors. I remember when I was a child how slow the internet used to be, but at the same time how incredible it was and how much of a technological innovation that I was taking part in. The dialing noises still ring in my head that the computer used to make as it connected to AOL, and now cell phones are light years faster than that. It is my belief that the world wide web is one of the most widely spread mass addiction that nearly everyone takes part in, and that goes unnoticed. The list of things that would not be possible without the internet is ridiculous: video conferences, international calling, the way our government carries out every day, for God’s sake what would we do without EMAIL?! I can’t even imagine the nightmare it would be if the internet somehow came to a crashing end never to be recovered. Our lives as we know it would be nothing short of in shambles.

Our dependency as consumers on the invisible creation, that is the internet, is almost pitiful. However, as pitiful as it seems, there is no way we could live our lives without it. Even if we were to remove it from our personal lives we’re still effected by it in operations where it goes unseen, such as video surveillance, telephones, and in our work places. It makes me wonder, what could be the next big thing that will change our lives forever? What will be the next thing that we cannot live without?

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Tobacco Today

The tobacco industry is one of the largest producers of products that are consumed and bought on a daily basis. From cigarettes and cigars, to hookah, and smokeless tobacco, people are hooked better than that 2 foot bass that you caught when you were fishing last week. But the nicotine isn’t the only thing that keeps people coming back to the gas stations to buy their fix, the packaging plays a large roll.

Marketers spend a lot of time producing new looks and arrangements to keep people entertained. Not only is subliminal advertising often used with tobacco products, but the attraction appeal is readily utilized. This is shown quite perfectly by the new look of Skoal’s tins as well as Grizzly products. Skoal was the first one off the starting line with producing a new look for their junkie’s. People can get pretty tired of the same looking tin day in and day out, so Skoal set out to spice things up. Same great flavor, but just a new spin on things. Their main competitor, Grizzly, wasn’t far behind in revamping their round piece of plastic into a metal covered contemporary creation.

These two companies have utilized one of the oldest tricks in the book by just putting a new look to themselves. Their product carries enough of the weight by getting their patron’s baited and craving, but the new look simply keeps them entertained. The main thing that this accomplishes is that it keeps their consumer from moving to one of the other competitors. Whether that is something that we realize or not, it plays a large roll on some conscious level. A lot of companies could take a lesson out of this. Got an old product? People losing interest? Spice things up a bit! A new look could turn a few heads!

Spring Break, College Style

College spring break brings a whole new meaning to the week off of school. In high school it’s a week for family trips to Florida, or sight seeing trips planned well in advance. Once you enter into the college years however, Mom and Dad are rarely ever in the picture for the ideal break that most every college student likes to enjoy. Companies have formed around college spring break, and work year round planning events and even hospitality for the college student with pennies in their pockets. Panama City Beach in Florida virtually transforms in the month of March into its own college town, and its year round residents find themselves being the minority. Miles down the beach of college students soaking up the sun, and “soaking” up a few beverages, and a nightlife that is unlike any other for those who survived the days festivities.

Student City is a company that works around the clock year round to provide college students with a cheap getaway without a dull moment. Free concerts, deals for local clubs, a places to stay, and many more amenities are provided in many hot spot locations, all for bargain prices. Companies such as this one make it extremely easy for the college consumer to plan last minute trips, and plan them with ease. Student City has a deal with a local condominium complex in Panama City Beach that allows for them to rent out nearly every unit in the building to students, and it mutates to a large dormitory essentially. This allows for PCB to become nearly a default location for many students. For sake of example, from my fraternity alone we had near 55 members travel down to take part in this week long party.

The month of March is incredible for local businesses in spring break hot-spots. The condo that I rented out for me and 11 of my other brothers overlooked over the ginormous complex known as Wal-Mart. Literally from around 9 in the morning when the town comes alive, until well after dark, the parking lot is nothing short of a bee hive buzzing with cars and walkers. Lines for amusement rides such as “The Sling-Shot” are hours long, and lines to get into clubs are nearly identical.

In short, spring break is a perfect example of what consumer behavior is capable of, not only in Panama but all around the world. Companies form simply to make the college consumers happy, and the traditions alive. It’s the behaviors that we take part in today that allow us to still relate to Kenny Chesney when he sings about HIS spring breaks down in Panama, back in 89′.

The wonderful WORLD of Wal-Mart

So here it is, that go to topic that relates in every way, shape, and form to consumer behavior. The mecca of the retail industry ladies and gentlemen, Wal-Mart Inc.. To nearly everyone’s knowledge, Wal-Mart is a perfectly lubricated machine that functions at peak efficiency around the clock, to provide everyone and everything the services that they need at the lowest possible prices. I’m not just talking your every day items, I’m literally saying EVERYTHING YOU NEED. When I was in Wal-Mart last week I had my first, what I like to call, Wal-Mart experience. In one visit to their West Lafayette location out on 52, I achieved getting a haircut, shopping for my regular every day items as well as a few grocery items, all while my perky little Mazda 3 got its oil replaced and tires rotated. The fact that I can say that I did all of that in one location is nothing short of awesome. Wal-Mart has taken every aspect and need of the average consumers life, and put it all under one roof so you don’t have any need to go to one of their competitors. Salon’s, eye doctors, mechanics, tax agents, subway, the grocery store, the pharmacy, the florist, and many more accommodations are all part of what makes up the most magnificent company known to man.

Wal-Mart does something that I have always said I will do if I own a personal business in the future. When you pay a certain price for an item, as soon as you make a dollar more than what you bought it for, you’ve made a profit. What a lot of companies fail to do is set prices reasonable enough to entice their buyers, and keep them coming back for more. Wal-Mart takes advantage of this by realizing that some profit, even if it’s only a dollar, is better than no profit. And an obvious advantage of that is that people will come back to you for the lowest prices rather than spend $20 more down the street for nearly the same item. That dollar is essentially an investment you are making to buy those customers loyalty. When you do this on literally every single one of a consumers everyday items, and put it all under a massive convention center size roof, you have a perfect equation for success. Sam Walton is an entrepreneurial icon that will be hard to ever match by anyone.

I personally don’t believe that any corporation will ever be able to match the success of Wal-Mart, or become any sort of threat in their rear view mirrors. Their direct competitors such as K-Mart or Target operate on the same concept of providing every day items for low prices, but they don’t do it nearly on the scale that Wal-Mart does. Wal-Mart did an unbelievable job of realizing opportunities for expansion by providing additional services under their service based roof, not only for their own personal benefit, but to benefit their customers and make shopping at their store the most convenient pit stop one could ever make. Even if you can find a hair cut for a better price, or an eye doctor for a lower co-pay with your insurance, people will use their services for the basic idea of convenience. Why drive 15 minutes out of your way to get your nails done when you can do it as you’re leaving the store from getting your prescription filled? What an incredible company.

The ever changing gas prices

Gas prices is a topic of conversation that always irritates me on some level. Never are the prices good enough for the people who roll up to the pump. I remember back in 2008 when the average price for gas in America was around $4.10 for a gallon. With today’s prices being on the higher side of $2, I’d say things are looking pretty fair. But never do you hear a consumer say that. Bitching and moaning all the way till E, car owners are never satisfied. Even when prices raise merely 5 cents the complaining continues with no recognition to the fact that that’s only going to total to about 50 cents more each time you fill up. You’d think with that attitude that vending machines would be long gone because no one want’s to drop 2 quarters into the slot for a little caffein fix.

With petroleum being virtually a necessity to our lives, we don’t have a choice but to pay the prices that gas stations put up on their colorful signs. People will literally spend thousands more on hybrid cars not because they want to “go green”, but because they want to save a few bucks at the pump, when in the end the numbers may be hard pressed to equate. The absent mindedness of the average consumer is astounding. How do people not realize that it really will show little to no change on their monthly bank statements when the prices rise literally pennies? You would also think that the complaining would be minimal due to the inevitability that you eventually will be running on fumes, but at the end of the day, you still have to drive to work in the morning.

Despite all the moaning and groaning at the pump, indirect companies have found ways to capitalize on the sympathy that fuel consumers loath for. Giant Eagle, a well known grocery store, formed a gas station company named Get-Go. When you shop at Giant Eagle, for every $50 you spend at their stores, you can get 10 cents off per gallon at their Get-Go pumps. This is brilliant because it brings you to shop at their stores, then on your way home fill up the mini-van at their pumps. As I previously stated, automakers produce cars that provide better fuel economy so that you buy a new car to satisfy your discomforts when you’re sticking the male fuel pump into the female tank receptor. Many more examples are not hard to provide, but I’ll spare you the repetition, you get the point.

Gas is something that we will always need. Unless everything motorized starts being produced to operate off of our bodily waste, you will still have to pay something to have many of life’s luxuries. People fail to realize that electricity even comes at a price. So to all the whiners out there, please save me the sob story. You truly will not find your pity here or with the people on the west coast, as we have cars to fill up as well. Everything comes at a price. If you’re truly that upset with the gas station attendant that uses the long pole to put up a 6 over the 5, a thing called a bike was invented centuries ago, and the only thing you have to expense after that purchase is your energy.