Modern people are extremely spoiled for choices when it comes to what they are going to consume or put into their bodies. Just a single generation ago our parents might have had a couple of brands to pick between when they went shopping but that was all. Now every product comes in a range of different versions, with things added, things taken away, items replaced or ingredients switched. If you had to keep track of the number of choices a shopper went through during an average visit to the supermarket you would be amazed at what goes into filling a basic basket. Is it that our tastes have become more refined or is it because we are better informed? It is hard to say, but here are some examples of just how spoiled we are.
Time for a smoke
Fifty years ago you could choose between a handful of brands. There was also the option of choosing the size of the carton: were you going to buy a pack of 20 or a pack of 30. That was about as far as it went. Then came menthol cigarettes and it seemed as though it was all done and dusted as far as choice went. That was until the electronic cigarettes came along and suddenly the market took a whole new turn. Now if you are a smoker you can chose between the traditional fare or you can opt for the best vaporizer Australia has to offer with hundreds of different coils and flavours. What used to be a simple, brand conscious decision is now a very complicated choice.
Soft drinks and beers and milk have all gone from being simple, straightforward purchases to fairly complicated and personalized decisions. Woe betide the person who buys full cream milk for a skim milk friend, or the person who gets a Coke Zero instead of a regular Coke. The choices in the drinks fridge have become mind-boggling but the truth is that the surplus of options has not alienated people, instead it has boosted sales on all fronts and driven consumption on all fronts.
Allergies and medical conditions have played a big role in the creation of new and different products. Gluten-free has become a big focus in the baked goods arena, and for a while fat-free and sugar-free were major focuses as well. Salt-free is also on the rise as consumers become increasingly aware of what constitutes good healthy eating and what products have different effects.
Doing the right thing
Terms like ‘ethical’ and ‘Fair Trade’ are increasingly used and they add another layer to the purchasing decision. This time it is not about taste or ingredients but rather about how the products were sourced and who or what was involved and affected along the way. It is a seriously important factor although it does beg the question, if a venue is able to acknowledge that some products are ‘Fair Trade’ but not others, why are they actually prepared to sell a product that by virtue of the fact that it is not ‘Fair Trade’ means they are acknowledging that somebody was screwed over in order for them to be selling it.