21 October 2008

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Monday's Wall Street Journal had a really interesting article about low-income consumers, how they organize their thoughts, purchases and lives. It's geared toward marketing to this overlooked consumer niche, but is intriguing on its own.

Studies have found that low-income consumers often have low literacy skills -- like the 14% of Americans estimated to be functionally illiterate in America (that's an astounding number!).

The article gives examples of how their thinking about products is different from what you might expect -- like one test to observe the ability to grasp abstractions. Subjects were shown four objects -- a hammer, saw, log and hatchet -- and asked to select the three objects that could be placed in a group. Rather than picking the hammer, saw and hatchet and calling them "tools," the subject chose instead the objects that would be involved in chopping wood -- presumably the saw, log and hatchet. Of course, that makes perfect sense, but is totally different than how I would have answered. I find this kind of stuff really fascinating -- and you might, as well.

Apparently such information has ramifications about how stores should group products to better align with this different process of thought.

You can read the article here.

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