Let's begin by taking a moment to review some of the typical behavioral patterns displayed by today's consumers. (And consider this fair warning: You may recognize something of yourself in more than one category.)

  • The Scout: Scouts absolutely refuse to purchase an item until they have thoroughly shopped around for the lowest price available. "I saved $9.99, and all I had to do was spend 12 hours of my time driving around to 7 stores comparing prices."
  • The Pushover: Pushovers will buy just about anything that is on sale or placed prominently at the checkout counter. This type of spender makes many unplanned purchases and is drawn to items "on sale" like a bear to honey. "I may not need it, but hey, the lighted toilet seat was 50% off!"
  • The Escape Artist: This type of spender shops as a means of escape from everyday woes. "I had a hard day at the office, and the kids are stressing me out. It's off to the mall we go!"
  • The Follower: Followers shop at the best stores and purchase only the finest clothing and accessories so they can belong to the "in crowd." They would rather be audited by the IRS than buy retail. This type of spender strives to be fashionable to maintain the "friends" they have. "I have a rare condition. I break out if I wear anything off the rack."
  • The Fire Fighter: Money burns holes in their pockets. To put out the fire, they spend, spend, spend! As soon as they get some money, it's time to get those things they "always" wanted. "Wow. I'm so glad I got paid on the same day the mall is having a Sale on Absolutely Useless Items!"

These particular spending behaviors don't happen overnight, they take time to take root and develop, and there are obviously more than the few we've chosen to illustrate. However, the timing is probably not as important as the specific influences that combine to mold us and shape us into the type of consumer we ultimately become. An examination of these factors is useful, and again, you may discover a bit of yourself along the way.