Sunday, May 07, 2006

Why Asian Food Saves You Money

Even though the economy is fairly strong, you still may want to save money and both Asian markets and Thai food can help. For a number of reasons, Asian markets are one of the cheapest places to buy groceries, even many of those groceries you normally buy in western supermarkets. Then, when you get home, you will find an average Thai meal with rice is significantly less expensive than a meat-centric western meal.

Asian Markets Are Almost Always Cheaper
Most Asian markets (except Japanese and Korean) are far less expensive item for item than western supermarkets, primarily because of a lack of branding or promotion and great economies of scale.

Unsophisticated Retail Tactics
Almost no Asian market owners spend money or time on such consumer spending optimizers as fliers, advertising, competitive pricing strategies, market research, information systems, shelf-space positioning strategies, frequent shopper club memberships, or interior decorating.

Western supermarket chains do not do these nice activities because they like you! Supermarkets do these things to bring you in the store and because they generate more revenue than they cost to perform. That extra profit comes from your pocket.

Market's Economies of Scale
Economies of scale kick in in major cities with a large concentration of Asian people. There are frequently one or two major Asian markets that have more shoppers per square feet than any western supermarkets I've ever seen. Visit the fresh fish counter in a major Asian stores in a city like Boston or San Jose just to see the massive volume sold. I remember from some market research a couple years ago, in the US, the average Asian and Hispanic shopper buys more groceries and cooks from scratch more frequently than the average western shopper. Volume drives down prices.

Weak Asian Brands
Frequently, foods made in Asia are sold very inexpensively in their home country due to weak branding, low labor costs and extreme price competition. This bruising competition is carried abroad at every stage in the wholesale chain keeping prices low.

Almost No Product Advertising
Asian branded products are not advertised internationally. When you buy TV and print advertised products, like those from General Mills or Kraft, you pay about 7% in direct advertising expenses and frequently far more for "brand value". If companies don't spend on ads, you don’t learn the differences between brands without trying them yourself, but you also don’t have to pay for their ads.

Overall Savings
When you visit an Asian market, you will find that these factors drive the price of many of the vegetables, fruit, fish and meat you normally buy to 10-30% below standard western supermarket prices. When you buy Asian products, you will frequently save even more than you would on a comparably produced western item.

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