Do you think $4 for a Big Mac is a fair price? Do you think $4 is a fair price knowing that it costs 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef?
As marketing causes our needs to increase, our incomes not necessarily increase with the same pace. The desires brought to life by marketers could feel like a disease, as they cripple our rational side, allowing our shopping impulses to prevail. Marketers market their products in such way that it is still affordable for us, even without the need to ask our boss for a pay raise. At the same time, this causes consumers to demand bottom-low prices. Of course, this does not come without consequences.
A common example to explain the consequences of bad marketing is the pricing of disposable products made in China. For such products, Western consumers demand prices that are so low, that one could think that they cannot be profitable for the manufacturer. However, these manufacturers have their own solution to maximize profits while maintaining bottom-low prices. They eliminate essential parts of the production process that cause high prices, like the observance of safety and environmental policies. Chinese manufacturers exploit the lack of national legislation to take high advantage on their Western competitors. However, cutting off certain parts of the process only shifts away the invoice while the real transaction takes place somewhere else, in its own separate way. Of course, this is not what is being communicated by marketeers.
During my time as an intern of a German production company in Kunshan, China, I was able to see many production sites of suppliers. When discussing the conditions of these sites with my German colleague, he told me that I saw nothing compared to the ones he saw. I saw only the “good” ones. To explain me how the others were, he told me this story:
“Somewhat a year before I came to Kunshan, a very big explosion was heard near the company’s site. It came out from a near production sites and caused 70 (!) deaths. The accident was not reported on the news, not nationally, nor locally. The government blocks online reporting in such cases”.
Indeed, you will never read anything bad about working conditions in China. Besides, if this already happens in Kunshan – a very typical Chinese village – it surely happens across the whole country on a regular basis.
Now, the example of Chinese disposable products might be too overheard. However, the same consequences of bad marketing apply just as much for less known products, such as the ones of the food industry. David Simon, lawyer and author of “Meatonomics”, claimed in the documentary “Cowspiracy” that the deficit of animal food production is as much as 414$bn. This deficit includes health care, environmental damage, subsidies, damage to fisheries, etc. As a matter of fact, if the food industry had to charge the real price of a Big Mac, it would cost 11$ instead of 4$.
“Whether you eat meat or not, you are paying part of the costs of somebody else consumption”. The same applies for all other industries that do not charge the real price.
To overcome bad marketing and product pricing, the first step is to make more conscious shopping decisions. If we do not wake up from our shopping impulses, only Mother Nature will keep on paying the deficit and a significant number of living beings will keep on being harmed.