Trading Up

Trading Up

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First, I have to confess that reading Trading Up was not as difficult and terrible as I anticipated. I found it interesting and easy to read and understand. I enjoyed reading about the increase in New Luxury and the excuses people use to justify buying things outside their means. Also, I found the second chapter very interesting. I liked reading about the various reasons the authors give us for the rise in New Luxury products. The examples in chapter 10 about vodka and beer helped me better understand this phenomenon and why people are choosing the more expensive product over the traditional brand. The article “A Humble Old Label Ices its Rivals” related significantly to this chapter and somewhat contradicts what the chapter states about why the more expensive product is better. In the readings I learned a great deal about what motivates people and why they are willing to spend more to get what they perceive as a better product.
     The first two chapters of Trading Up mainly describe what a New Luxury is and who the people that use them are. New Luxury goods are those products and services that are higher in quality and cost than similar products and services that are of lesser quality. These products are not so expensive that the average consumer cannot purchase it. Trading up refers to people who forgo a lesser product for a better product (a New Luxury good or service). New Luxury consumers are often of middle to upper income and tend to be highly selective. In exchange for being able to trade up on one product they often choose to trade down on other products. They feel that certain products are more important then other products, which is how they decide when to trade up or down. These customers also include, but are not limited to, people who have a large disposable income, few expense, single people, and divorced people. Women also contribute a large amount for New Luxury items. These consumers also tend to be well educated and feel they have earned the right to spend their hard earned money on more luxurious things.
     Chapter 10 discusses one of these New Luxury products that people are choosing to trade up for. The item, vodka, seemed to be a dwindling commodity before it became a New Luxury. People were buying less and less of the product until Absolut, and then Belvedere, reinvented it.

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Smirnoff was the original producer and they saw their sales drop as a result of these new, better, and more expensive vodkas. It seemed that the more time and effort was put in to creating the product, the more people were willing to spend on it. People were also focused on the image of being seen asking for or drinking one of these prestigious spirits. The book mainly focuses on the development of these more prominent vodkas and how many people prefer them to the cheaper Smirnoff. The article “A Humble Old Label Ices its Rivals” suggests something different. In a blind taste test the panel chose Smirnoff to be their favorite. The article also mentions that Smirnoff is the best selling unflavored vodka in the United States, something that is not mentioned in the book, Trading Up. This information shows how the number of people trading up to the more expensive vodka may be exaggerated in the book. The articles main focus is on how difficult it is to distinguish the many different types of vodka because there are very subtle variations among them. Some taste sweeter while others taste purer. The article also discussed how the slight differences are created and the different ingredients used. Smirnoff remains the best selling vodka regardless of the many different quality and price levels.
Overall, I found the book very fascinating. I enjoyed learning the reasoning behind people’s actions. I personally do not relate very much because I choose to remain within my means. But perhaps that will change as I get older and begin earning a larger income. Perhaps I will trade up once in a while, but to balance it out I would probably also trade down on other items. Reading Trading Up and the article I found that they have somewhat conflicting information. Perhaps the numbers used for one are based on store sales and the other on on-premises sales. Or perhaps I am just focusing on it too much. It probably is true that people are trading up, but which products they choose to trade up for differ from person to person.
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