Do you use a potato peeler for your potatoes, or just a sharp knife? Personally, I prefer a specific peeler, and it can also work great on carrots to prepare your healthy mid-morning snack.

Marketing has given us at least 5 Ps (Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People). Convenience is associated with price, and is an important factor in choice when we decide to buy something; and that’s one of the key reasons for the success on online shopping outlets such as Amazon.

Price is also a key factor, and when I needed to buy the aforementioned kitchen utensil, the Chinese store less than 100 metres from my flat sprang to mind. I chose one that seemed up to its important culinary function, and it was cheap. After 3 months and about 20 potatoes, the blade became lose and then last week, it just broke. There were signs of rust at the joint. I decided to take it back to the shop.

For better or worse, the owner’s teenage son and daughter were behind the counter and set about blaming me for not taking care of it and “What did I expect for what I paid for it.” They didn’t even address me as usted! As my parting shot, I told them I was never coming back there again.

Once I’d calmed down and overcome my indignation, it made me think about what I’d learned from my little crappy potato peeler. Despite the textbook “how not to deal with a customer complaint” treatment, in some ways they were right. If you pay 2 duros for an item, you should go into a transaction knowing what you are buying and lowering your expectations. Your complaint should be based on the price-quality ratio.

Many people still expect to find the utopian quality product at a bargain price. When you buy a low-cost, low-quality product (your perception) you get an immediate feeling of satisfaction, and then later on disappointment. When you buy a more expensive product that you know is good quality, you may feel disappointed in yourself or even guilty at spending so much, but later on, you’re more likely to feel satisfaction. This is obviously a simplification of a topic that hides complex psychology impulses, rationalisations and marketing strategies.

However, your potatoes should provide food for thought, and avoid anger at the friend who smugly reminds you  “I told you so.”  

If you’re learning English, the following phrases may come in handy next time you rationalise your low-cost purchase.

Buy cheap, pay dear (expensive).

You get what you pay for.

Buying cheap is a false economy.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

En fin, lo barato sale caro.

What do you think?

EUROVISION – We’re back! But why now?

How Spain and the UK turned things around

The UK and Spain have been the butt of the Eurovision jokes for quite a few years now, and most people had given up hope of either country ever bouncing back again, but as the votes came in with 10s and 12s, the feeling of “Is this really happening?” started changing to “This really is happening!”

In the end, with Russia banned, Ukraine won with The folk-rap act, Kalush Orchestraas as the European audience decided to vote in support of a country at war. I’m sure both Sam Ryder and Chanel were disappointed, but understood the final result: UK: 2nd, Spain: 3rd.

How did the UK turn things around from 0 to 466 points? It finally puts to bed the belief that voters don’t vote for certain countries, as both Russia and Israel have won in recent years.

Can we learn anything from this year’s results and apply it to business, language learning or life goals?

Firstly, with the erroneous belief behind them, they decided to take the competition seriously (attitude), something that they hadn’t done for about 30 years.

Secondly, they chose a singer with a great voice (Sam Ryder) with a huge vocal range who had 12.1 million followers on Tictoc. Sam’s cover versions impressed their original singers. Alicia Keys was so impressed, she sang a duet with him (Talent).

Thirdly, they picked a quality song written by professional songwriters (with its octave jump in the chorus), influenced by classic British artists such as Queen, Elton John and David Bowie with someone who could perform it well (Quality).

Fourthly, the set was designed to convey the meaning of the song, with “space and stars” as the theme. Not spectacular, but a lot of thought was put into it all the same (Image).

Lastly, and probably most importantly, a marketing team devised a plan to promote the song around Europe in the months preceding the contest. Songs tend to grow on you, and if you’ve already heard the song a lot of times, you’re more likely to vote for it, unless it’s rubbish!! (Promotion).

Both the UK and Spain showed that when you spend the time planning something carefully and work hard to implement it with a positive attitude, your results are going to improve dramatically. Let’s see what happens next year.

Eurovision is back. What are your thoughts?