Why Did I Buy That?

The next time you’re in a store shopping for groceries, clothes, household items or anything else, stop and take a long look at your purchases. Then ask yourself this question: Why do I buy this particular brand or product? Knowing why you buy something is important, especially if you want to save money. Here are some common reasons why people choose certain brands or products:

  • It’s what their mother used
  • It’s what they’ve always bought (habit)
  • It brings back good memories/comfort
  • Their friends buy it
  • They like the advertising
  • Because they heard it was good
  • Because they heard all the alternatives were bad
  • Because it’s cheap
  • Because it’s an expensive/luxury/exclusive brand
  • Because it carries a perception of being cool/hip/in the know
  • Because they genuinely love the product

There are many other reasons, some of which might be unique to you. When you’re thinking about why you buy what you do, be honest with yourself. Admit why you really choose the products you do, even if you think the reason makes you seem silly or shallow. No one’s going to know but you. Only by knowing why you choose what you do can you begin to think about changing your purchasing habits.

Figuring out why you buy something can be a step toward saving money. If you buy a brand just because your mother used it, it may be time to try some other brands on your own and see if you like them as well. You might find a cheaper brand that serves you just as well. If you buy just because the brand has a cool ad, it may be time to try some less expensive brands with less advertising to see if you like them more. If you buy a product because it’s the brand you’ve always bought, it may be time to try some alternatives and see how they work.

The point is that we all get into purchasing ruts. We all find ourselves buying things unquestioningly just because it’s a habit or what we think we should buy. Every now and then we need to break out of those ruts and try some other products. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that generics have come a long way since the last time you tried them. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden gem of a brand that no one talks about but works wonders for you. Maybe you’ll discover that you can get better results with your own formula. The first step, though, has to be understanding why you buy what you buy. Once you know that, you can better seek out and evaluate alternatives.

Maybe after you evaluate why you buy what you buy and you try some alternatives you’ll decide that you really like the things you’ve been buying and you don’t want to make any changes. That’s fine. If you genuinely like the products you buy and they meet your needs (and you can afford them) then keep using them. The point of this exercise isn’t to make you switch to the cheapest alternative or give up all your comfort brands. It’s to make sure that you’ve considered other alternatives besides just sticking with old habits that might have been costing you unnecessary money. If you admit that you buy a certain laundry detergent because your mother bought it, but you discover that another brand does the job as well for half the price, then you have to ask yourself whether you want to change or if you want to stick with the old habit. If you decide you really like your mother’s brand and want to stick with it, go ahead. But at least you know there are other options if you want to change your mind.

When you know why you buy what you buy, you can make informed decisions about whether you can or should change your purchasing habits. It’s costly to go through life without ever asking yourself if cheaper alternatives will work as well. Even if you don’t change your habits, at least you’ve been honest with yourself and you’re more aware of your buying motivations. That alone will serve you well in the future.

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One Response to Why Did I Buy That?

  1. I like your list of why people buy things. I’m sure the next time I go shopping I will be asking myself why I’m choosing certain brands. I think “it’s what their mother used” is probably the one we’re least consciously aware of. There’s that longtime sense of familiarity combined with the knowledge that someone we trust has vouched for the product.

    I do think there is some financial risk in trying new brands, though. For example, I like to buy foods at the grocery store that I haven’t tried before, either for the novelty factor or in an attempt to save money. But sometimes I find them so disgusting that I end up throwing them out. My grocery bills would probably be lower overall if I didn’t experiment and stuck to what I know I like, even if those things cost a little more. Other times I will make myself use the product I don’t care for because I don’t want to be wasteful, but I miss that sense of enjoyment I got out of using my regular product.

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