Buy Or Sell - The Great Manipulation

So the time to move on from announcing our new website came upon us and I decided it was time to start posting entries on the Buon Giorno Coffee Journal.  What to say?  How to begin?  Will anyone read it?  How broad is my remit?  All these questions have somewhat aided the lethargy of procrastination over this first real post.  I have plenty to say, and I believe some interesting perspectives.  No doubt, not all will agree, which is partly the point of this post.  Please feel free to comment and express yourselves, my only plea is that you keep it friendly, respectful and we avoid any unnecessary language that may offend unless it is appropriate to the discussion.  Those who read, I would urge you not to take easy offence and we will all get along just fine.


As a kick off to my musings, I have long wanted to express my opinions on the 'Culture of Selling' that pervades our mercantile environment.  As with most of these journal entries, I am also keen to elaborate on why I believe Buon Giorno Coffee's culture seeks to provide a counter to this pervasion, and perhaps you can understand better why we do what we do.  At the heart of this issue lies the consumer.  That means you and me and millions of others who seek to maximize the enjoyment of their hard earned dosh through the consumption of goods and services provided by another.  Here at Buon Giorno, we are also one of the 'anothers'.  To buy or to sell, that is the question, to crassly misquote the famous bard.


It seems to me that, for many reasons, we have gradually evolved into a culture of selling which has all but strangled the informed and willing choice to purchase by the individual.  We are now bombarded, reminded, cajoled and manipulated almost on a minute by minute basis to purchase merchandise or services that are being offered, rather than leaving the individual to seek out and choose at the behest of their simple desires.  The satire in TV programs such as 'Mad Men' and the somewhat chilling depiction of retina based advertising in the film 'Minority Report' represent condemning commentary on what has now become the norm.  We have long had the TV commercial, and the roadside hoarding and even before that, the newspapers and radio used to carry a relatively tiny sample of advertising to encourage one to buy the latest 'new and improved' washing powder, cigarette or even latest fashion accessory.


A friend of mine once said that advertising 'robs you of your dignity and sells it back to you at the price of the product being advertized'.  I have never forgotten how true I felt that statement was, and today, I believe it to be even more pertinent.  The problem is that we have built our western economies on the power of the consumer being able to buy more and more and in order to fuel that purchasing, we have gradually had to stoke the fires of demand by an ever increasing manipulation to buy.  The use of hype, gulit, fear, and sheer avarice have become the order of the day in seeking to help you part with your money, usually to buy something you don't need nor can you afford.  This has then given rise to the often crippling reliance on credit and an economy built on the chimera of money that does not actually exist.  Today, we have not quite reached the level of retina based individually targetted advertising, but Facebook provides us with a foretaste.  All those seemingly innocuous pieces of information about you and your personal preferences are simply being sold to the 'Sellers' who then target your preferences in an attempt to use your presence on the site as an opportunity to sell.  Why do you think Facebook was valued at $12 billion.  What is it but a fancy website provided free of charge.  Where does all the money come from to make it that valuable?  It isn't even a product.  Herein lies the great manipulation.  More and more our hard earned funds are being used to purchase the very non-product based services that keep this culture alive.  We live life believing that we have to have the latest iPhone, the coolest car, the most fashionable clothes or somehow we will be left behind in a wake of passé indifference.


At Buon Giorno Coffee, we never advertise.  Our 2 locations probably field 10 - 20 calls a week either trying to get us to buy something, and usually it is some version of advertising or marketing.  It always amuses me that the desperation to sell me advertising far outweighs my desire to buy.  On occasions, I am treated with disdain because I do not want to part with our hard earned profit for the benefit of having some hyped version of who we are presented to the unsuspecting public.  Instead, we have relied on the words of those who have been served here and who are not being paid to pass on the positives.  We trust in doing what we do well enough to attract people who choose to be part of what we do.  Instead of spending what money we have to invest in advertising, we seek to improve what we already have.  Call me naive or old fashioned, but I have a dream (sorry Martin).  I dream that someday the individual might be provided with only what he/she needs to make an informed deicision.  In their own time they will then purchase what they truly choose to buy.  Perhaps once more we might enjoy that rare but satisfying feeling of paying for something that we truly chose without any coercion or manipulation but simply because we were convinced that it was what really wanted!  Meanwhile, I am sipping a wonderful Peruvian coffee...sorry, I wont try to sell you on my coffee, I'll leave it up to you!  Oh and I apologize for posting a link to Facebook - but that is where you are all hanging out isn't it?

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1 comment

I love your viewpoint. Heaven forbid that we are able to make our decisions based on what we think we want, as opposed to what someone tells us we want.
And no, I did not use you Facebook link! I found your blog as I was just shopping for coffee from my kitchen table in Indiana, since it is a little too far to walk to the store in Grapevine as we used to do. I get on Facebook at most twice a year, whether I need it or not, mostly to appease my 75 year old mother who says I am out of touch. :)

Brent Lykens

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