Plain packs don’t drive smokers to buy cheap imports


Plain packaging has not driven smokers to buy cheap imports or illicit tobacco, or to favour discount retailers over corner stores, a study published today in the journal BMJ Open has found.

This puts to bed claims by tobacco companies that plain packs would put smokers in danger because of poor imports and hurt small, local retailers because of longer dispensing times.

The Cancer Council Victoria study, led by senior policy adviser Michelle Scollo, set out to test the claims using the annual smoking behaviour study.

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Be afraid, be very afraid

The FlySo much of our buying behaviour is about insuring ourselves against a scary world and a frightening future. The technique is so common, you’ve probably heard it all before.

But for the uninitiated, when it comes to fear, the marketers’ approach goes something like this:

Step 1. The Problem
Invent a problem
Promote the problem
Get someone in authority to convince consumers that it must be a problem.

Step 2. The Solution
Create an easy and stress-free solution (the product)
Perhaps add a bit of science and maybe some stats to give it some credibility
Argue that all that they were doing is responding to consumer needs

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The psychology of making purchases with cash and credit

omg-chocolate-cake-1Although the concept of credit has been around for thousands of years (the Latin word, credere, means ‘to believe’), legend tells us that the first credit card appeared in 1949 when Frank McNamara, head of the Hamilton Credit Corporation, went out to eat with Alfred Bloomingdale.

At the end of the meal they realised that no one in their group had any cash, so McNamara had to call his wife to bring cash to pay for the meal. It was then that he had the idea for a card that could be used at multiple merchants.

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Shiny, happy people having fun

AAA_birnmart_11829It might seem obvious, but spending time with your friends is a pretty good way to get happy. But, some clever researchers from the University of Milan Bicocca, Italy, have found a way to put a monetary value on time spent with friends.

I hear you ask the question, “why?” Well, I guess in a culture where the economy is everything, it’s sometimes useful to get a sense of the financial value of something, so you can win arguments with politicians (I know this from personal experience). It’s not ideal, but if it’s possible, it can be part of a larger set of tools to aid the development of public policy.

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Get outside and enjoy the sunshine*

Style: "shotprod"Research published in 2011 in the journal, Human Communication Research, found that television programs that show social affluence had a significant effect on the viewer’s own material values and their life satisfaction. Other research has found that heavy viewers of television believe that there is greater prevalence of luxury product ownership, a higher level of income occupations such as doctors and lawyers, and higher levels of social affluence in general. My hope is that they’re not all watching Gossip Girls (look it up, it’s pretty trashy). Materialism, and even seeing others living in a material world, despite Madonna’s protestations, is not good for life satisfaction.

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Beware the confirmation bias

landing-pages-confirmation-bias-lessonWorking on the ABC Radio National program, Talking Shop, has reminded me how important it is to not just look for evidence that supports your position. Knowing that you are broadcasting to a diverse, highly intelligent, and sometimes strongly opinioned audience, is a good reminder to be confident in your arguments, and also in your opinions.

Doing the show has reinforced the idea that we do need to be vigilant about the confirmation bias, which is the very human tendency to focus on data and information that confirms our currently held beliefs, and ignore (or dismiss) data that challenges it.

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So, if you’re cashed up, why aren’t you happy?

Pig-with-too-much-money-iStock_000002551071SmallResearch has suggested that the relationship between money and happiness is surprisingly weak, which may stem in part from the way people spend it. In a review of the literature in 2011 around happiness and money, Elizabeth Dunn, Dan Gilbert and Timothy Wilson proposed eight principles that they argued would help consumers get more happiness for their money.

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