Tuesday, December 07, 2004

"Parties," Pyramid Scams, and Peer Pressure

The phenomenon of pyramid scam parties has swept through our country's female population. Be it tastefully simple parties, tupperware parties, jewelry parties, spa parties, etc., etc. probably millions of women every year are invited and/or invite co-workers, friends and family to "parties."

The more women who attend and buy, the bigger take/discount the inviter gets from the presenter(who usually knows the inviter (and has pressured her to have the party). The presenter will also pressure invitees (who the presenter probably doesn't know) to throw their own parties with her as the presenter.

But the twist for the inviter is that if any of the invitees throw their own party, the inviter becomes the invitee. The former inviter "must" attend her former invitees "parties" because they attended hers. And a lack of attendance at a former attendee's party (without a real reason) could be troubling for the relationship. So if a inviter invites 15 friends to a "party" and 10 of them come and buy (because if you come, you "have" to buy) but then later on 7 of these attendees throw their own "party" then the former inviter is now "forced" to attend 7 "parties"(some of which might be for products she has no real use for) and buy at least 1, probably 2 things at these "parties." Her take/discount from her party is more than erased by the products she "must" purchase at the "parties" of former attendees.

Who ever thought of this marketing scam is a genius. Using "parties," peer pressure and the illusion that "You have to buy something" to sell overpriced stuff (some of which is useful - some is not) works much better than million dollar ad campaigns. We all know most women love gathering together to go out and shop be it to the mall, flea markets, garage sales. Some look for deals, others want top of the line stuff but they're never really "forced" to buy at the GAP or Old Navy. But now they are in essence buying from friends - not unknown shopkeppers or salespeople and there is an unspoken correlation between the # of items bought and the strength of the friendship. And everyone else knows that they "have" to buy something so you can't be the only one.

A few of the items my lovely and financial responsible wife has been "forced" into buying include a metal cube for a necklace (it didn't include the strap that goes around a neck but was simply a metal cube with a hole in it) for $25, a bottle of lotion for something like $15, and a marinade for something like $8.

Can you imagine a scheme like this trying to work on guys? 10 guys standing in one of their buddy's living rooms looking at overpriced tools, steaks, beer or TVs while another male tries to persuade them to buy or throw their own "party." Not happening. I'm not buying overpriced stuff I don't really need from anyone, including my best friend and he knows it.

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