I like to think that as a parent I have passed on a wealth of knowledge and experience, setting my children up to thrive as adults, make sound choices etc etc.
In reality it’s likely that the only thing they will remember is my rule of ‘second crappest’.
(Probably because of the catchy title.)
The rule of second crappest is a simple yet effective one. Whenever you are looking to make a purchase or choice of some kind you simply go for the second crappest. In Tesco looking for baked beans? You don’t want to buy the super cheap ones where they can’t even be bothered to use coloured labels, but there’s no need to splash out on Heinz unless it’s your birthday or something, so instead you plump for the Tesco own brand. Second crappest.
Although I’ve always done it, it became a proper thing when Bee started shopping on her own. She would text me from the shops:
‘Which pasta should I buy?’ she’d ask.
‘I don’t know, whichever you want!’ I’d reply. (Patiently.)
‘But there are so many!’
‘Just get the second crappest.’
And there it is.
Often I think brands are very aware of the rule, and deliberately set up their product range to take advantage of it. I’d imagine that a big part of why supermarkets introduced their ‘basics’ ranges was to bump the own brand range up to the position of second crappest. If you only had own brand or Heinz to choose between, Heinz would seem like the nice choice. When you add a bottom rung the own brand suddenly seems more attractive.
It’s like flights. If you could afford it, you’d want to travel business class wouldn’t you? Second crappest. There’s first class, but we all know that the benefits aren’t worth the massive extra expense. The airlines only really put first class there to make you feel like business class is good value – it’s a trick designed to herd you towards second crappest.
It’s the same with wine in restaurants. Someone in the industry was telling me recently that apparently restaurants know that we tend to pick the 2nd, 3rd or 4th cheapest on the wine list, and so they position the options accordingly. All wine lists will have one really cheap one that they know most people won’t pick because no one wants to be that person. Second crappest.
Supermarkets even arrange their shelves according to the rule. Have a look next time you are shopping. You’ll notice that the very cheapest version of things is often on the bottom shelves, like we won’t be bothered to actually bend over just to save ten pence. The best stuff is top shelf, because it’s fancy. Eye level is the home of second crappest. It’s the supermarket saying ‘oh hey there, we know your brain isn’t cut out to deal with all this choice, so let’s make this easy for you. Second crappest is just here.’
When you think about it like this, you do feel a bit stupid and it makes you realise how easily our brains are manipulated, but generally the rule works well for me.
There are of course some things that the rule of second crappest doesn’t apply to. I wouldn’t recommend it for instance if choosing a life partner. You want to aim a little higher in that case, at least initially.
Think about your own shopping habits – how often do you apply the rule of second crappest without even realising it?
If it’s not often then you might want to adopt it.
Image – chrisdorney/shutterstock