Often when a store wants to attract consumers they will advertise a loss leader- that is a product that they are willing to sell for less than what it is worth. The idea is that this product brings people into the store, and once there, they will not only purchase the ‘loss leader’ item, but they will spend lots of additional money as well. It’s a proven ploy.
I’ve been thinking about loss leaders as they apply to human interactions as well. Have you even been drawn into a relationship (personal or professional) that looked, on first glance, to be an incredibly alluring and potential-filled opportunity, but once you took a few steps into it, the price of interaction rose dramatically? Sometimes before you know it, you’ve invested far more than you wanted, you have ‘bags of stuff’ (baggage) that you don’t need or want and you realize you’ll be paying off your purchases for a long time to come.
Alternatively, it might be that you are the one offering the loss leader. In an effort to make a good impression, draw someone to you or impress someone, you might offer to do or contribute more (in either time or money) than you plan on sustaining over time. In either case, the relationship is founded on a false premise.
When I was growing up we lived on a farm where we grew vegetables that we took to the market. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday were market days and on those days we packed up the farm truck and headed to the market to sell the produce we had grown. Dad always had some advice for us before we left and I recall him telling us that if we got to the market and noticed that corn was being sold for $.75 per dozen, then we should NOT reduce our price and sell it for, say $.60. Dad explained that even though the sign might attract people at first, his theory was that they would not buy because they would think that our product was inferior. After all, if we did not value our corn, why should they?
There is a theory that the most long term relationships are formed when interactions of equal value are made. People like to get what they are paying for, and they do not like to think that they cannot afford ‘the best produce’.
As this season of giving barrels toward us, may we each strive to participate in human interactions that are based on respect and equality. We not have to diminish our own worth nor do we have to overinflate our worth. When people look to see what we are offering, they appreciate seeing the truth. Hopefully the bargains you find this season will all be at the mall but the gifts you find will be with the people you love. Happy shopping!