'Potentially harmful': Expert's warning over pitfalls of Coles and Woolworths collectables

Press/Media: Expert Comment


A marketing expert has warned of the potential dark side of the supermarket collectables craze as shoppers across the country scramble to get their hands on the miniatures with every grocery shop.

Macquarie University’s Associate Professor of Marketing Jana Bowden said while there were some positives to these campaigns being rolled out by supermarkets, such as the new Coles Stikeez collectables, people needed to be aware of the “harmful” impacts on consumers.

“That particular aspect is potentially harmful because it encourages obsessive behaviour, compulsive behaviour and addictive collecting behaviour,” Assoc Prof Bowden told Yahoo News Australia.

“Which some might argue is not necessarily an appropriate value to be socialising children into at such a young age.”

But Assoc Prof Bowden points out it is often not just the children who become obsessed with these campaigns, which is only being propelled by social media.

She said the behaviour observed in social media groups dedicated to these supermarket collectables only highlights the obsession.

The associate professor said for the regular shopper who does not indulge in the collectable campaigns, they might be innocuous.

But for those who do, usually parents, there can be added stress and anxiety, which could impact their relationships with their children.

“Parenthood obsession filters down to childhood obsession,” she said.

Assoc Prof Bowden added she could see how this happened as she was a mother and could relate.

“There are issues that need to be considered from a broader societal perspective,” she said.

When Woolworths Lion King Ooshies were all the rage last year, parents were compared to piranhas at a collectables swap event.

One attendee recalled parents with plenty of “doubles” refused to swap anything, even with children.

A teenager at one of the events claimed adults snatched her Ooshies without her permission and offered nothing in return.

“I would blatantly see parents take my Ooshies. I had lost all my spares, from older people/adults taking them without my permission,” she wrote online.

A retail expert also told Yahoo News Australia last year people were also getting collectables fatigue.

“What we’ve seen over the last 18 months is [Coles] Little Shop 2, we’ve seen Disney Letters from Woolworths, we’ve seen Christmas pop-ups from Woolworths, we’ve had Ooshies from Woolworths – now this is the second range of Ooshies – so even consumers are getting probably tired of that,” marketing professor at the Queensland University of Technology, Gary Mortimer, said in December.

In addition to the fatigue, Prof Mortimer expected to be shoppers’ response to another collectables product from the supermarket chains, was the divorce the new range had had from the way they were obtained.

The older Lion King Ooshies and other collectables were “gathered” or “given away” as opposed to being bought like any other supermarket item.

Period14 Feb 2020

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