I have noticed that marketers often create products or variations of products that seem unnecessary to consumers, and I think it is because they are trying to sell ideas.

When I was at the Wal-Mart Express in Prairie Grove this afternoon, I noticed that Duncan Hines now sells “Mini Brownies,” which is a box of brownie mix just like Duncan Hines’ regular “Brownie Mix.” The only difference is that “Mini Brownies” has a picture of mini brownies (shaped like mini cupcakes) on the box and comes with 12 baking cups. Consumers are accustomed to seeing cupcake mix, not mini brownie mix. However, cupcake mix is no different than cake mix in the way mini brownie mix is no different than brownie mix. You can make your brownies and cakes whatever size and shape you like using just the regular mix. The fact that Duncan Hines created a type of brownie mix made specifically for mini brownies seems unnecessary.

In fact, I discovered that when you buy “Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Mini Brownies” at ShoopFoodEx.com, you pay $0.25 for every ounce of brownie mix. When you buy the “Duncan Hines Family Size Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix,” you only pay $0.17 for every ounce of brownie mix. Essentially, Duncan Hines’ marketers are selling the idea of making mini brownies in baking cups by putting an image of it on a smaller box and leading people to pay more money for the idea of a baking idea they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Duncan Hines offers its consumers brownie ideas in other ways, too. For example, they have a whole page on their website dedicated to brownie recipes, as well as a whole Pinterest board. Of course, they also offer a wide variety of types of brownie mix. I figure that if the marketers can give consumers enough ways to use Duncan Hines’ products, consumers will always have a reason to continue buying those products.

I think Duncan Hines is targeting consumers who are not chefs at heart. I can relate, as I don’t know very much about cooking. Consumers like me will see the product on the shelf, like the idea, value the fact that the idea seems so easy, and then buy the product without ever realizing that buying the regular mix to make mini brownies would essentially be the same thing. After I came to that realization today, I felt deceived, even though the price different is not outrageous. However, I think most non-cooking consumers like me would either be ignorant to the fact that the product is unnecessary or value the product more than I did simply because it gave them an idea.