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For companies to grow, they have to sell you more

Jun 11, 2013
The constant pressure from investors for companies to grow their profits means they have to grow their sales to you. Plus, it's cheaper to try to sell more to you than find new customers.
Posted In: marketing, sales

The problem with focusing on shareholder value

Jun 11, 2013
It's standard practice in today's business world that the focus should be on increasing value to shareholders. But it hasn't always been that way.
Posted In: shareholders, Earnings

Unilever CEO: For sustainable business, go against 'mindless consumption'

Jun 11, 2013
Many companies focus on short-term results. The CEO of consumer-products giant Unilever, Paul Polman, says long-term strategic planning builds better businesses.
Posted In: unilever, ceo, sustainability

Tell us: What's the craziest thing you've been upsold?

For today's consumer economy to keep chugging along, businesses need to keep selling products. And often, they find that it's easier to simply sell more to existing customers than try to pick up new ones.

Enter the practice of upselling: Maybe it's "Do you want fries with that?" or maybe it's "How about some new rims to go with those tires?"

Whatever it is, we want to know: What's the craziest thing you've ever been upsold?

Tell us in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.


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Jun 10, 2013

By the Numbers: Consumed Day 1

$341,000

The median value of a home in Charles County, Md. --  a fast-growing suburb of Washington, D.C. where parents move to give their children the best opportunities their money can buy. (Census)

33%

The percent Toll Brothers, the high-end homebuilder, has seen its stock go up in the last year. New home construction is one of the building blocks of today's consumer economy. It’s up in many places, so much that builders have trouble finding skilled workers. Lots of new subdivisions out there. (YCharts)

$49,705

The average annual expenditure of a "consumer unit" in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's really only a notch below $50,486, the number for 2008 (during the height of the financial crisis). (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

125,000,000

The number of iPhones sold as of October 2012, up from just one million way back in September 2007. That's a whole lot of rugrats running around playing Angry Birds, people. (CNet)

$3,299

The price tag on a video game development camp to send your budding programmer. Even the good old fashioned YMCA camps will run you $150-400 per kid, per week. (Fiscal Times)

$986 billion
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Jun 10, 2013

Worth It or Not? Create a poll and find out

Jun 10, 2013
From cameras to houses to children, it can be hard to know if we are making the best choices with our money when we buy things. Our new poll game helps you decide: is it worth it? Find out how to use it.

How Adam Smith's economic philosophies apply in today's world

Jun 10, 2013
Most people remember the idea of the free market's "invisible hand," but it turns out, Adam Smith had a lot to say about consumers, too.
Posted In: Adam Smith, consumer

For middle-class parents, raising children becomes a consumer arms race

Jun 10, 2013
Trying to give your children an advantage in growing up makes consuming a competition. When everyone has a tutor, a trainer or a special baseball bat, you can't help but keep up.
Posted In: consumer behavior, children

A Saturday shopping trip leads to some big questions

Jun 10, 2013
A Saturday shopping trip started out fairly innocently... and ended with some big questions about our consumer economy and whether it is sustainable long-term.
Posted In: consumer behavior, consumer spending

Parents hire personal trainers to give kids a leg up

Jun 10, 2013
We all want our kids to get into the best colleges they can. Some families take extra measures and spend extra money in pursuit of an edge.
Posted In: consumer, fitness, children

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About this collection

You hear it a lot: For the economy to get better, we all have to spend more. Consumer confidence, consumer spending, consumer interest, consumer debt.... it's the consumer economy. But didn't spending too much get us in trouble a few years ago? Can we afford the consumer economy? Marketplace explores how we consume, what we get from it, what it costs, and whether we can keep it up.