The cost of packaging

October 8, 2020 by Lucian Mogosanu

Note to the alien anthropologist: in our multilaterally-developed global village, "city-people" buy their mass-produced shit from huge deposits they call supermarkets. Mass-produced as in, in large quantities after a recipe defined with surgical precision, thanks to The All-Encompassing Automation. This inevitably forces those who sell said shit to spend resources into creating the illusion of variety, which leads us to the following point.

You know how you oftentimes stumble upon "XXL" varieties of some product, say, a bottle of mouthwash, a box of detergent, or, why the hell not, a bag of chips. You're kind of used to it by now, and you even spend the money on the thing, since you'll very likely get N times the quantity at less than N times the price. This actually makes a ton of sense as far as the economics goes, since Listerine will spend much less on 2 litres of plastic than on two 1-litre pieces -- you do the math.

There's a lot more going into this cost of packaging, though, or at least enough that I can't help but fixate on it for a moment. Take Coca-Cola for example, and the trivial observation that a 500mL plastic bottle doesn't cost the same (per-mL) as the 250mL glass bottle. Not only that, but the damned poison doesn't taste the same, even; so then it's pretty damned naïve to believe that the price of some thing is established based entirely on the cost of packaging. And yet, there's so much going into packaging costs, since you gotta create a whole different assembly setup for the larger bottles, and all that rests on marketing study backing the thing with numbers and so on and so forth.

If you're Romanian, you might not be aware of the fact that supermarkets in the West sell pre-cut cucumbers to their citizens; yet you're well aware that there's no such thing to be found in the ones close to you. I suppose you've wondered why those sell in their country and not in yours, who knows, perhaps you're willing to pay a little extra for the packaging... or perhaps you aren't, or at least that's my educated guess. So what's the problem here then? do they not sell kitchen knives in Western Europe anymore? Or is it rather that the average Joe in the UK sucks at life more than the average Romanian? In other words, the costs of packaging correlate with those of pretend-civilization, i.e. stupidity. Or in other other words, marketers know that today's average Romanian still knows how to cut a fucking cucumber, so he won't buy that bullshit. Just give it another two decades, then they can sell it to confused kids as the brand new shit, and... anyway.

If you're Romanian, you're also probably aware that we've had local elections very recently. In particular, the mayorship of Bükreş was won by the local pantsuit leader, Nicușor Daniel Dan, a math olympiad winner turned activist and aspiring politician. That aside, the results of Romanian multilaterally-developed blues were mediocre at best, with the reds maintaining a firm grip in the field. Still, they make a point of selling it like it's some great achievement in the hopes that this will further help them grow, and I don't doubt that it will, at least as long as there's still milk coming from the cows and gold from the coffers.

Yet another very important note to the alien anthropologist: this deviant fixation on packaging underlies the very essence of post-modern pretend-civilization. Or should I say, the lack of essence, since through so refined packaging, The Big Machine has managed to create artefacts that are all packaging and little to no content. Have you noticed, by the way, what passes for fucking water nowadays?

Welcome to the future.

Filed under: note to the alien anthropologist.
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