Monday, August 16, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Going Bananas

     The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     As you may have already figured out, Company, there is one corporation, one company as it is (that counts as a sort of a pun, right?) that sells more merchandise that any other company in America or the world for that matter.  That is, of course, Wal-Mart.  They are the largest retailer, and despite the widespread opposition to their business practices and their creative use of economies of scale, everybody shops there ($405 billion in sales last year - that's a lot of Fruit Roll-ups) and so they are a good barometer of the national shopping mood.  What they have told the good folks at Business Week is that they sell more bananas than anything else.
     That's right, bananas.  And why not?  The first thought that popped into my head was that the banana was a strange thing to see on the top of this list.  Bananas, really?  We really buy more bananas than loaves of bread or rolls of aluminium foil or packages of toilet paper?  For real?  Bananas? 
      Yes, bananas.  After about 16/100ths of a second of lucid thought I realized that maybe bananas were not such a crazy thing to be heading our list.  First of all, Mike-a-licious loves bananas, so he buys a lot, and everyone knows that he is a pied piper of the masses, so of course they are buying a lot of bananas.  Second of all, bananas are an extremely versatile fruit - being used with a combination of other flavors especially in desserts.  Think about it, you can have them with ice cream, in baked goods, caramelized, etc, because they have a good flavor but it's not overpowering and it plays well with others.  There is, however, one major reason I feel that bananas are the single best selling thing at Wally World for the last year: bananas sell in bunches.
     When was the last time that you walked into a grocery store and bought a single banana?  I know that I have done it at the gas station as a snack while driving the car, but those are packaged for individual sale.  Well, all bananas are really in their own little special package for individual sale but you know what I mean.  At the grocery store, which in this case Wal-Mart is acting like a grocery store, they aren't really set up for individual sale.  They are usually priced by the pound, so you could buy a single one should you so desire, and they are sitting out in the open usually without a bag around them or something, so you could buy a single one should you so desire, but you always buy a bunch because they always come in bunches.  You don't, as a general rule, buy one banana, you buy five at a crack.  So they are of course going to be the best sellers, especially if they are counting one banana as one unit.  Because things like toilet paper and soda come in packages of six or eight or twelve or whatever, and I would be willing to bet all of Lady Rebecca's weekly stipend on the fact that they are counting packs of soda, or packages of toilet paper, not individual rolls or cans.  Score one for the banana I suppose.
     So I suppose that in a way of speaking the lowly banana is our favorite food, or at least our favorite retail item.  Even if it is not the thing we think the most about buying it IS the thing we buy the most.  Thank you United Fruit Company and all your economic imperialism for that.  And who knows?  It might fall from the top spot come next year.  I suppose that you will just have to make sure to buy lots and lots and lots of your favorite thing.  So have fun with that.  And lay off the bananas Company, will ya?  You have enough potassium in your system for Christ's sake.


BradPerala said...

I'm not sure they count each banana in a sale of 5 bananas, as you yourself pointed out that they are sold by the pound. This makes it even more crazy that they sell that many bananas, if it's on sales of pounds of bananas, not individual bananas. Banana is a fun word to type, by the way...

Big Dave said...

Good point Brad. I was wondering the same thing after I thought about it: how do they know how many bananas were sold if they charge by the pound? What if they are just counting every time that "bananas" appears on the receipt? Then it is astronomical the amount of bananas that they are selling; an amount so big that not even the largest of NASA computers could figure it out.