Saturday, September 24, 2011
I Could Sell You Water
The other day, a student sat down with me and told me that he was researching the soda industry and that he needed some help. I showed him a couple sources including Hoovers, which does industry profiles. As we were looking at the profile of Coca Cola, he said something like "That's the number one soda in the world, one in three people drink Coke daily."
"I've heard that." I said.
"Of course, Pepsi is very popular as well."
"This is true."
"Which do you drink?" he demanded.
"I prefer Coke to Pepsi, but I don't really drink soda."
He looked shocked, "So what, you drink water?"
"I could sell you bottled water then." He said this with a kind of finality that made it seem like every time he interacts with a person he tries to figure out what he can sell that person. It was the statement 'I could sell you water' that just stuck in my head though.
I remember when I was in high school, the thought of buying water was absolutely insane, it just wasn't done. This may have been because we were teenagers, and finally had the disposable income necessary to buy candy and soda every day, or it may have just been the idea that paying money for something you can get for free seems incredibly stupid. I actually started buying bottled water is high school though, because I was frequently out with friends and just didn't want to drink soda all the time.
People made fun of me for it, "Don't you know Evian is Naive spelled backwards?" and now, a handful of years later, people with perfectly good water coming out of their taps, go to the grocery store and buy water by the caseload. It baffles me, it really does.
"I don't buy bottled water." I told the student.
"You what? You drink tap water?" he sounded completely horrified and said tap as if it was a dirty word. "You never drink bottled water?"
"Well, if I'm far away from home and I'm thirsty and didn't bring water with me, then, yes, I might buy a bottle of water. But that happens pretty infrequently. I really don't want to spend my money on something I can get for free, and there's nothing wrong with tap water."
He sat there for a moment mulling this over, and then admitted, "That's smart."
"Yeah, I know."
So even though this kid is a freshman in business school, and we have no idea where he'll wind up, it felt really good to say, "No, you can't sell me this, you cannot have my money for something I do not need."
It's a small victory.
Posted by Frugal(er) at 10:42 AM