Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clutter and QVC

food storage containers

Clutter and poor shopping choices go hand in hand - so I was intrigued by Megan McArdle's article called The Genius of QVC, found in the June 2010 issue of The Atlantic.

The article starts with the story of Megan calling her mom and suggesting she check out the flatware being sold on QVC right then; her mom had wanted to buy that flatware as a wedding gift. Here's how the story continues:
"You want me to buy something ... from the television?" Her tone suggested icy Thanksgiving dinners and rewritten wills.

And to be fair, 30 minutes later, she had not bought any flatware. Somehow, though, our family came to own three jumbo sets of Lock and Lock storage containers, in Kiwi, Fuschia, and Coral. ... Now that we each had a color-coded personal set, my mother explained, the McArdle women would never again tussle over the Tupperware.
Read the rest of this interesting article to understand how the QVC hosts "sell you things you don't quite need."


Claire Josefine said...

Thanks for this link, Jeri. The comments on the article are interesting, too.

In my almost 14 years of organizing, I've found the boxes from QVC to be a sure sign that my client is experiencing depression. It's more than just a skillful sales job, using story, developing an illusion of relationship. The article/comments touched on it some: trying to fill our emptiness with shiny objects, to create the feeling of the life we want (and aren't living) by buying the things that go with it, the high of getting "a present" in the mail. And the problems go beyond clutter; I've seen QVC shopping cause financial havoc for my clients. It's insidious.

Julie Bestry said...

Thanks so much for posting this, Jeri.

I have to echo what Claire said. I try never to blame a specific store or method (and goodness knows, as a former TV executive, I never want to lambaste the messenger), but extensive purchasing from QVC and HSN does seem to point to symptoms of clinical depression.

A few boxes, here or there, of items purchased AND USED, may be safe, but the faux relationship-building of the on-air salespeople and the callers seem to fill an aching, gaping need in the people who return, time and again, to buy what they don't need, or truly want, so they can have that untenable thrill premised on a too-eager testimonial and a too-cheery offer of human connection . Many of these clients, never even open the boxes, their thrill coming from the watching, calling and buying, rather than the possessing.

For those who can't get the QVC monkey off their back, cold turkey isn't possible. Sometimes, having them watch, journal (the price, characteristics and feelings at the moment) and even call a trusted friend (instead of QVC) to talk about the appeal of the item and what's going through their heads and report back on their efforts is helpful first step. (Another is asking them to try to watch, even for just one night, if they're deep-dish offenders, with the sound off. The audio, more than the video, seems to be a major trigger

Jeri Dansky said...

Claire and Julie, thank you for your insights. I'm always delighted when the comments add so much to my original post.