New is a blessing and a curse

Published 6:45 pm Saturday, June 2, 2012

New! That word gets me all the time. I am a sucker for it and a marketing guru’s dream customer. If a label has that word splashed across it, I am, without a doubt, going to purchase the item. But it has to be “new” not “new and improved” or worse, the “new” that is really just “repackaged.”

Now, I won’t just buy any old “new” product, it has to be one that I use or can incorporate gracefully into my lifestyle. New is the promise of hope; it is the word that makes me believe that there is something totally different with endless possibilities just waiting to be incorporated into my life. New means my oil will last longer in my engine, my clothing will certainly be whiter, my salad dressing lower in calories and more flavorful. I will pay more for something new. I just can’t help myself. “New” makes me feel like a kid at Christmas, just waiting to open the presents under the tree.

“New and improved” is never, in my opinion, improved. For me that phrase means: “We are desperate for a market share so, we have changed the scent and probably watered down the original formula in a failed attempt to coax you back as a customer.” That wording on a box will make me leave the item on a shelf every time. I won’t buy it on promo sale. I am too much of a skeptic to believe in “new and improved.”

I have noticed as of late that “new” is creeping up on “old” products just repackaged in a “new” size. Seriously, who needs 12 ounces of pasta? Where is my old, one-pound box? Everything is coming in a “new” smaller size, with a larger price tag. Companies are going green and using eco-friendly packaging in an attempt to garner support, but in return they have made the size smaller.

That irritates the tar out of me! I don’t want less tuna, pasta, soap or cereal; I want the standard-issue size, the amount there always has been, not the amount manufacturers want me to believe is the amount I need. Next thing you know, they are going to go to the metric system and totally mess me up.

This new downsizing has affected my ability to make certain recipes with ease. I have to refigure the entire recipe, or I have to buy twice as much, which is really one and a third times as much as before, just to get the amount called for in said recipe.  My frustration level runs so high when paying more for less, that I chuck the recipe and end up at the drive-through lane at McDonald’s!

So, although I can be manipulated, and definitely swayed with bright lights and bells and whistles, when it says “new” it had really better be “new” or else! Yes, that is a threat, dear manufacturers and companies of America, because this big, ol’, Southern Yankee, is going to open a can of you-know-what (while carrying a big stick) on you if you don’t leave well enough alone.

OK, I feel better. Thank you and good night.


A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.