There's a famous saying, or is it a lyric, "if you love someone then set them free". I confess, I do this with products and potential purchases all the time. Especially on a personal level. I have lost count the amount of times I have liked, or even loved, something and then just walked off. Most of the items in question I really wanted to buy, but I'm a stubborn, anti impulsive buyer and when it comes to frugal, I'm as good as they get. A very strange personality trait for an interior decorator for sure. But one that my clients really appreciate on the occasion that I exercise the 'Yearn Principle' on their projects.
What is really interesting, is that although I may have yearned for several items in the January Sales, months later, I struggle to remember what they even were. I can't even remember one. What felt like a case of life and death, has now completely slipped me by.
I've never really given this approach of mine much thought, until I heard someone telling another about it in a shop recently. "If you walk away and can't stop thinking about it a day later, then you know it's the right one" were the words of wisdom I heard. So it's a principle that others use too. And more interestingly, pass on to others with great furor.
I guess the key question is, how long should you wait? One day. Two days. Even a week. And another question for the changing times, how does this principle work with the rise of internet shopping?
One of the key problems people seem to have with walking away, is missing out. "What happens if I return and it's gone?" being the most common concern. I truly believe if it was meant to be, then it's meant to be. If the item is still there after you have taken time out to evaluate it's purchase, then it's meant to be yours. If it's gone, then it wasn't. Lets call it 'consumer karma'. This is a bold move, especially for me, because I'm an avid opportunity shopper, so items tend to come in batches of one. Not in tens or hundreds, as you see in the high street. So for me, the loss of an item is a real threat. But I don't let this sway me. I always give myself a day to 'yearn', longer if it's a high street find. I tend to find the yearn just fizzles out.
What about an online yearn principle? Now this one is a lot harder, because it involves a lower amount of effort and is easy to fulfil from the comfort of your chair. It's also harder because 'they' know what you've been looking at and take it upon themselves to constantly remind you about that product at every given click. It sounds all so sinister and creepy, especially if you push the experience back into the real world. It's like having your own personal shopping stalker, following you from shop to shop, reminding you of all the things you've seen and should buy.
It's a tough cookie to crack. Literally. It is a cookie. Simply put, webpages have hidden content which allows advertising networks to place a 'cookie' on your computer that says "this computer is looking at X, Y & Z!". When you move to another site that's supported by advertising, the advertising networks make the connection and display the adverts for the products you have looked at previously, right in front of you. Simple. Smart. And Everywhere.
Some of the online interior businesses are alarmingly good at this. Sofas can follow you around for weeks. I would love to see this happen on the high street!
Personally, I see this as a challenge. The more it flashes up on my screen, the less likely I am to return to the site to buy it. It is hard to ignore. However I do find that after a few days the adverts move on to something else as it picks up consumer clues elsewhere. I guess the key note here is, if you miss the adverts once they stop, then maybe it's a purchase you need to revisit.
But why bother with thinking about purchases by applying this yearn principal? Why not just buy it if you like it? Sure, it can be an inconvenience and less efficient (in terms of time and fuel) to retrace your steps and go back to purchase that unforgettable piece. But over the long term, it saves you a lot of time, money and space with the reduction of impulse purchases. Space? Yes space. That vital commodity, that all of us say, we need more of. I've alluded to this in previous blogs. Impulse buying is a bit like a hamster wheel, you like, you buy, you like, you buy. What happens is you have so much stuff, you don't know what you have. This leads to more buying because you can't find something you already have, when you need it. And all this stuff needs space.
But more importantly, applying the yearn principle makes us discerning customers or consumers, which I believe is a good thing. I'm currently applying this principle on a dinner set. I have never owned a full set of matching plates, bowls and cups. I make my own set up finding pieces that feature certain colours and shapes, that look like they belong together. A forever evolving set. But now I'm middle aged (and have two older kids who are less likely to drop said items) I thought I'd like to give it a try. I've seen one. Name withheld. A week later, I'm still yearning. It's even on sale and I haven't gone back. Maybe it's not the one. If it is the one, it will still be there. Call it middle aged rebellion. Say no to FOMO.