None of the Above
I made the mistake of answering the phone for a number I did not recognize today. It was a pleasant-sounding voice by the name of “Karen” conducting “market research.” Boy did she dial the wrong number!
The first question concerned where I get my news. My options were 1) newspapers, 2) television, 3) Internet, and 4) radio. My answer was 3) Internet. It’s here that I watch video, read newspapers, and enjoy the perspectives of several reputable news outlets including (but certainly not limited to) the BBC, NPR, Daily Good, Sojourners, UTNE Reader, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times.
The second question concerned advertising. The bile began to rise in my throat at this query. “Do you watch television advertisements,” “Karen” the voice purred? “No,” I responded flatly. “We don’t watch TV. We have a television, but we use it only for movies and Netflix.”
Uh, oh. I was not thrilled with the way this conversation was headed. She asked a few more banal advertising/marketing preference questions to which I was a lackluster respondent due to my disinterest in consumption in general and my lack of current advertising content knowledge. I don’t even get excited about Super Bowl ads,but I do adore Adbusters.
The real clinker came when she said, “We like to thank our survey participants by giving them a choice of one of three gifts–a $25 WalMart gift card, a $25 Target gift card, or a set of steak knives. Since I’m a functional vegetarian (only eating meat when it is a social necessity) and a person who avoids big box stores, I responded, “None of the above, thank you.” And that was that.
It feels good to be able to say “none of the above” and mean it, to joyfully opt out of consumption and walk another path. Had she asked me about supporting local businesses and family farmers, I could have waxed eloquent. Had she inquired about whether I prefer to purchase fair trade and/or recycled goods or whether I do my personal shopping at Goodwill and the Rescue Mission, we could have had a lovely conversation. Alas, I was simply one of “Karen” the voice’s more disappointing responses for the day.
That said, I’m quite comfortable in my un-consumer, non-conformist skin. Being a “None of the Above” kind of person allows me to live a rich life that focuses on relationships, creativity, faith, and justice. I am grateful for every breath and moment. Less stuff means more freedom, and that dear friends, is a very good thing.
How about you? Do you fall into the “None of the Above” category? If so, what do you think marketers most need to know about us? What do you enjoy most about the lifestyle you are living or aspire to live?