Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Marketer's Dream

I'm typing this at 2:15 am Thursday morning. Why, you ask? Because I've volunteered to help my son finish up his science fair project. And it's due tomorrow--I mean, today.

I guess I should back up a tad and explain. Yes, I have to admit that I am a bit of a helicopter parent--one who hovers. But he's done all the work on his project. It just ended up going much longer than we expected, and he couldn't stay up all night! So he has everything ready to go. I just need to enter two columns of data and print out his graph once another flashlight dies.

He's testing the life of 4 different brands of batteries by inserting them in brand new, identical flashlights, and then letting them burn. He's comparing the top level brands, Energizer ($3.58/2-pack) and Duracell ($3.58), with the lower-priced Rayovac ($2.98) and a generic grocery store brand ($2.19).

So, my naive little son writes up his hypothesis: The brands will all work pretty much the same. But his wise, experienced-shopper mom is thinking, no, no, the name brands will work better. Just think of that little bunny that keeps going and going and going...
Day one, with much fanfare, we turn on all the flashlights. Three hours later, the one with Energizer batteries dies. Cool!, he says. And wise mom thinks, okay, the others will follow along in the next few minutes.

Three hours later, the Rayovac-powered flashlight dies. Cool!, he says. Maybe the generic ones will win. And mom thinks, no way. I guess Duracell has it wrapped up.

Fifteen hours later I'm still sitting here staring at the last two flashlights, willing one of them to burn out. (Die, die, you stupid flashlights, I want to go to bed!!) I have to admit, I'm cheering for the little grocery store brand. But part of me is bummed to think about how easily I've been duped by a great marketing campaign. My husband has always called me a marketer's dream, and I guess this proves him right.

Now, I know doing this experiment once isn't showing anything to be statistically significant. The Energizer might do better next time. But you can bet I won't be buying name brand batteries again! I'm convinced.

Are any of you pushovers like I am? How easily are you swayed by advertising?

(If you're interested in hearing the final outcome of the experiment, email me from my website and I'll let you know--after a good long nap tomorrow.) :)



  1. I thought the Rayovac would last longer. That's the brand I usually buy. I'll be interested to know which lasted longer.

    I usually stay away from those brand names, unless we're talking certain clothing brands - because they really do fit differently than off brands. In my opinion. It's never been scientifically tested!

  2. Yea! I always buy the cheaper store brands. Unless I'm at Sam's and can get the ginormous back of AA's for a good price. Then those would be Energizer or Duracell.

    Unfortunately, I tend to be an easy sell. I've often seen those infomercials on TV and thought "Oooo, that would be nice." It's at that point hubby usually sends me the don't-even-think-about-it look. LOL! Thank heavens he keeps me grounded :-)

  3. The Ingles (grocery store generic) lasted one little flicker longer than the Duracell!! They both faded at the same time.

    I usually buy Rayovac on sale because Ingles marks the packs down to 99 cents sometimes. So I stock up. But my hubby pointed out that it might not be worth it if the store brand lasts over 3 times as long!

    Christy, you're right about some name brands when it comes to clothes. Some items you do get what you pay for. I started buying Old Navy tee shirts because they last several years, whereas my Walmart tee shirts only last about 2 seasons before wearing out or fading or totally losing their shape.


  4. I also meant to say that I stayed up until 4:30 am, and finally gave up. I slept on the couch with the burning flashlights on the table beside me. The last two flashlights burned out at 7:20 this morning as my son was about to glue the results graph onto his poster board (saying that it was a tie and he had to end the experiment). So we were able to print out a new one with the end results on it. He finished it at 7:50, then had to shower and get ready for school by 8:10! LOL

    Next year he will NOT be allowed to procrastinate. But still, it aggravates me that they assign this over the holidays every year.


  5. Good thing he's a boy. A girl would have never been able to get ready that fast :-D

  6. Missy,

    Can I call you when Celina has another science project? Why do they always assign these projects two weeks before Christmas? Celina's school has done this for the last couple of years and she's only in the fourth grade. I dread middle school and high school. I feel like I'm hardly surviving the homework load as it is. These kids need a break once in a while. They're in school all day. Then they have to come home and work all evening.

  7. Well, Jenn. Never fear. Once she gets past middle school, you won't be able to help her anymore anyway. The math and stuff will get too hard!! LOL I recently started to look at my son's AP calculus homework over his shoulder because he was having trouble. He just looked at me real serious and said, "Are you kidding?" And that was that! LOL

    I hate these holiday assignments, too. The same one with the science fair project also has a lauguage arts--get this--GROUP project that they were supposed to work on over Christmas. Please tell me how they're supposed to do that when families are scattered all over the place! I was so aggravated.