By following these ways to become an educated consumer, you will be making the decision to have a larger say in the products and services you buy. We live in a world that is bombarded with advertisements and claims about thousands of products and brands. Being an educated consumer is the only way to break through the clutter and make informed choices. While it may take some time, learning the best ways to become an educated consumer will definitely benefit you in the long run.
1. Know What Goes into Your Products
When it comes to food and household products, knowing the ingredients is one of the easiest ways to become an educated consumer. You don’t want nasty chemicals or unhealthy ingredients in your products, so paying attention to product labels is key. If you are unsure of what a certain chemical or preservative is, have no hesitation in doing some research or asking your doctor if something is unhealthy or not. These products are a part of your daily life, so make sure you are comfortable with the ingredients in them.
2. Don’t Always Follow Fads
I remember when the fad against high fructose corn syrup was going around, I freaked out and was totally against any food that had it. Some time after that, I realized that high fructose corn syrup is not as evil as I thought. Sure, it is not exactly healthy for you, but it is no worse than regular sugar. Both are okay in moderation. When it comes down to it, being an educated consumer means making healthy choices, regardless of the fads going around. Fads can come and go, but making educated choices about your products will stick around forever.
3. Pay Attention to Ads
As a public relations major, I have heard an earful from my family about how advertising, public relations, and marketing executives will do anything to sell a product, including lie. But from my personal experience, that is simply not true. Advertisements are designed to keep an audience interested and informed. Most of the time, it is the audience who tunes out the advertisements and misses some information. Make sure you are paying attention to ads and getting the full information before making judgments about a product or a brand. It can help you save a lot of time when it comes time to buy.
4. Know Your Brands
Another of the many ways to become an educated consumer is to understand what products belong to what brands. I am personally such a fan of what Dove stands for in their goal for all women to accept their bodies. So you can imagine my shock when I found out that Dove was owned by P&G, which also owns Axe Body Spray. At first I was confused. How could a brand that stands for inner beauty also have a product with commercials featuring scantily clad supermodels? While this may not seem like a big deal, having that image of inner beauty associated with Dove might be a driving factor for some consumers. Knowing what products are housed under certain brands can help you make more conscious choices by knowing what your products really stand for.
5. Read Reviews
When it comes to more costly purchases like cars and appliances, research is a vital part of becoming an educated consumer. It helps you compare prices and understand exactly what you are getting out of a product. Review sites can be helpful, as well as the direct website of the item. I find it particularly helpful to create an Excel sheet comparing products. It usually includes categories for price, quality, and features of the product. It is nice to have an easy-to-read overview to make sure you are getting the most out of your purchases.
6. Take a Trip
One of the more interesting ways to become an educated consumer is to take a trip to the factories or headquarters of a company. Most big name brands offer tours of their factories and a look behind the scenes of the products or services they offer. It is an incredibly interesting way to learn more about products and the brand as a whole. I recently took a trip to the Heineken Museum in Amsterdam. I not only learned about the process of making beer, but I also got to learn about the history of the company and some of their marketing strategies. So next time you are taking a vacation, look to see if there are any headquarters you can check out there.
7. Think about the Effect of Your Purchases
The effect of your purchases lasts a lot longer than you might expect. Buying a product means buying into the ideas and values the product represents. If you are an advocate for animal rights, you might be buying products that are tested on animals and not even know. You could be buying products from companies that pollute waters and use sweatshops as labor. Knowing what you are buying is half the process of being an educated consumer. You need to learn what brands stand for what. Only then can you think about the actions of purchases.
You might be thinking, what is the point of all of this? But being an educated consumer can have a positive impact on you, your family, and the brands you buy from. What did you think of these ways to become an educated consumer? What other some other ways to become an educated consumer? Do you think it is important to become an educated consumer?