Women are notoriously indecisive. I’m just as guilty as the next girl when it comes to deciding on the minutia of my day-to-day life. Sometimes I annoy myself with my inability to make even the simplest decisions. My boyfriend will attest to this if you think I’m exaggerating. Asking a man any of the following questions is the surest way I know to elicit an eye-roll and a grunt.
What should I wear? Where should we eat? The green or the yellow shirt? Which kind of laundry soap should I get? Does this make me look fat? Should I go out tonight? Do I want to go work out?
There are instances in which a little bit of extra thought is warranted (interview day might be a good time to re-think that yellow nail polish), but this shouldn’t be an everyday occurrence, and you really needn’t fret quite so much over which pair of black pumps to wear to work. (I know, one is peep-toe and one isn’t. World of difference.)
I went shopping with my mom today; I needed some new eyeliner and because neither of us could muster the will-power, courage or patience required of even the briefest trip to the mall, we went to Bed Bath and Beyond. I love BB&B. One-stop-shop. Seriously, the only thing they don’t have is a J. Crew, and I’m awaiting the day when the open an in-house Starbucks (can’t be long now).
My mom struck out in search of those one-serving coffee cups, and I meandered around for a minute, entertaining the idea of purchasing a new kitchen toy. I faced a wall- easily 20 feet high- on which were mounted 2,145 options (in my estimation) of every conceivable kitchen gadget known to humankind. I stared, mouth half-open, eyes glazed over and feeling wholly unprepared to make such an unnecessary decision, and walked off in search of my eye liner.
Confronted with a similar situation in the cosmetics section, and again when trying to select an appropriate toothbrush (is this ADA accepted?), I ultimately snatched a random brown liner and stalked off, annoyed that even the simplest choice had been multiplied to such gargantuan and unruly proportions.
Which got me thinking…women aren’t bad decision-makers because we’re women, no, no, no…women are bad decision-makers because of shrewd marketing tactics. After such a stressful start to my Saturday, I spent the remainder of my afternoon muddling over the various reasons women are so woefully inept at decision-making.
1) Marketers toy with our emotions. Imagine it: you run out of laundry detergent. You head to Target to pick up some Tide, only when you locate the correct aisle, you find your normal scent and it’s eco-friendly cousin. If you get your normal old Tide, you might as well say don’t care about the planet, but if you take the chance on the new, natural-ingredient version, will you get the same results? Decisions, decisions…
2) We’re bombarded with entirely new wardrobe options at least twice a year. Fall and Spring Fashion Week usher in dozens and dozens of new “must have” looks, colors, hairstyles and accessories which, in an era of fashion magazines and our culture of celebrity worship, rapidly determine that no, you can no longer wear rainboots or bangs. Which in turn means that as soon as that last Missoni model struts her cute behind off the runway, boutiques and chain retailers are busily knocking off her $650 swimsuit. So really it’s no wonder that stylish women suffer so when attempting to dress themselves: What?? Leather is in again? I thought it was polo shirts! The coral nail polish or the teal??
(Go with the coral. Or the teal…)
3) Women appreciate packaging. Now, this is not a deal-breaker, but don’t try to fool yourself into thinking that you haven’t at least thought about trying a different product because it had cooler packaging than your old standby brand of shampoo. There’s nothing wrong with a plain old box, but marketers know if they change it up every now and again that they’re likely to snag a few converts because of their cool new font. Let’s be honest, if Noxzema hadn’t updated its’ look, Neutrogena would have run away with the skin-care market. And I didn’t even touch the fact that the antique can of Noxzema looks uncomfortably similar to an economy-size tin of saddle soap.
4) Women feed off of each other, especially when it comes to decisions. This is not exactly a shrewd marketing tactic, but it’s certainly something those ad sharks know about the fairer sex. Picture this: You and your girlfriends are out shopping, and someone finds a bag she loves: It’s the perfect size and according to Vogue it’s the perfect color. She turns, eyes glittering, to ask if you like it (you don’t), and as one of her friends you feel obligated to tell her that the purse sucks. Suddenly, under the spell of your guidance, your friend might not love the purse after all…maybe it’s just okay…so she picks up another one. Still no. Then your other friend chimes in, “What about this one?” and the cycle spins rapidly out of control (and out of her price range) until, an hour and a half later, she has decided upon the perfect purse, the one Mary Kate Olsen was spotted carrying at Coachella (read: the most expensive one). Score one for the marketing gurus.
Note: This scenario can be repeated with clothing, makeup, restaurants, gadgets, car seats, sunglasses, water bottles, yoga mats, dog collars, umbrellas, reusable grocery bags, iPhone covers…….you get the idea.
5) And finally, sometimes, we don’t want to make a decision. Since we’re put through the decision-making wringer on a daily basis, starting with what to eat for breakfast (Grape Nuts or a cinnamon roll? I really want a cinnamon roll, but I should have Grape Nuts…) ending in whether we should take a bath or a shower, and encompassing every conceivable situation in between, sometimes we turn off our decision-making capacity. As in, no, I will not decide which Chinese place to order from. And no, I won’t look at your shirt right now and decide if it should go to the dry cleaner. And absolutely hell, no, I’m not going to Blockbuster to pick a movie.
Royal China or Panda Express for dinner? Really…it doesn’t matter. And pick me up a toothbrush while you’re out.