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How do they make money?!

Do you ever look at a company, or a specific product/service, and wonder how the people behind it make any money?


Your perplexity may exist because you consider their prices to be far too low. They may struggle to explain what they offer in their advertising or marketing literature, causing more confusion than when they started.


Or it may be that their product is rubbish!


That last point is likely to be subjective. For them to remain in business, someone must be buying what they offer.


woman looking confused and disappointed at her Christmas gift

I was looking on Etsy the other day for some ideas for Christmas gifts. I love Etsy, because you can always find something on there that you wouldn’t find in the shops. However, in respect of 50% of the items it stocks, there’s good reason for this.


Take some of the ‘gift hampers’ I saw. A good proportion looked well put together and they gave off an air of luxury. The rest looked like my mother had done a blindfolded grab-what-you-can in her local Bodycare, with the results of her raid chucked in an old wicker basket. And what these sellers were charging for this ‘wonderful’ array of everyday items was practically double what they would cost on a supermarket’s shelves.


Items such as personalised bottle openers/corkscrews, apparently bona fide Lord and Lady titles, a calendar bearing 12 pictures of Kim Jong-Un or the World’s Greatest Mullets, a wooden spoon with Nicholas Cage’s face on it, belly button cleaners, rocks for a pet, a Buddha in the shape of Shrek…I mean, who buys these things? Who sells these things?!


Clearly, some people like what they see, looking at the number of sales and reviews, though I suspect they’re given as joke presents or Secret Santa surprises. Maybe there is an audience out there for every product/service, but there can’t be that many people in the world with a Nicholas Cage wooden spoon on their Christmas wish list, can there? And I can’t believe that somebody somewhere felt there was a gap in the market for a cooking utensil that celebrated the existence of Nicholas Cage—who are these people, and what made them spend their hard-earned money on the equipment to produce this abomination?! What, in their market research, made them think that such an item would be something people would pay for?


It’s difficult to know how many people felt they needed a wooden spoon with Cage’s face on it, as the seller’s sales are cumulative, across all of the products they have for sale on the Etsy site. That said, their sales count is currently at 32,603. Aha! Maybe then, only a few people are in dire need of a Nicholas Cage wooden spoon in their lives. That would explain it.


I explored the other items this particular seller had available, convinced that these other products must be responsible for their impressive sales figures.


All wooden spoons. All with different famous people’s faces on them.


What?! Why?


In my family, we have an informal competition for the most rubbish gift from a specific relative, who obviously snaps up Poundland’s best buys at the last minute. I’m not saying a lot of money must be exchanged for a gift to be good, this comes from years of unwrapping single toothbrushes or lampshades bearing the latest teen dream. And they’re not given as ‘joke’ gifts either. (What does this gift mean?! What are they trying to say?) You could easily develop some sort of complex in my family unit.


Admittedly, it’s the unique, weird gifts that I remember the most vividly. And, if you think about it…if retailers all sold the same old, same old, how would you ever hope to find the perfect gift for that one friend/partner who is an obsessive Nicholas Cage fan and who also loves to cook?

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