I, like many Generation Xers I imagine, was first introduced to a phrase “horse of a different” through Wizard of Oz. You know, when Dorothy says, “What kind of a horse is that? I’ve never seen a horse like that before!” And the driver responds, “No, and never will again, I fancy. There’s only one of him, and he’s it. He’s the Horse of a Different Color you’ve heard tell about.” The origin of “horse of a different color” seems to predate that usage by quite a bit. I think most people understand usage of the phrase to mean that it’s another topic entirely from what the previous topic was.
Why all this talk of horses and colors? Well, I was reading a USA Today article that claims changing an item’s tint drives consumers to bring the green. I think the article can be summed in the first three short paragraphs:
It doesn’t really matter that Margie Leigh’s granddaughter, Laura, got the pink iPod she so desperately wanted last Christmas “” at age 4. For the now-5-year-old, pink is out this holiday, and purple is in.
Grandma in Kentucky will be buying her granddaughter in Virginia a purple iPod this Christmas for one reason “” its color.
“I know it sounds crazy,” says Leigh, who is retired. “But that’s what she wants.”
Margie Leigh, you are right about one thing here – it sounds crazy. Let’s take a step back and look at what’s going here. I am going to make some questionable generalizations because I don’t have all the information available to me.
First off, let’s address the child. I’m not one for picking on children and I shouldn’t throw stones because I wanted Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High Tops in a few different colors as well. Still, if I was lucky enough to get a walkman for my birthday, I didn’t think about trading it in for one in a different color. Next year, I just wanted more music for it. So is the argument that iPods are the fashion accessories that Chuck Taylor’s or Swatches were then? I would buy that if they didn’t cost $150. If it’s normal for a 4 or 5 year old to think that $200 electronics count as fashion in today’s world, my wife and I might decide never to have children.
Now, let’s address the grandmother. It does make a point that she’s retired. Perhaps she’s retired with all kinds of money – it’s possible. If she’s the average retired grandmother though, the last few months have been extremely stressful on her finances. I know, I’m having those kinds of talks with my mom who is nearing retirement. Many people have watched a third of their money disappear. Let’s ignore this and assume that she’s got lots of money and has budgeted well for this gift.
What example is the grandmother setting? She’s teaching Laura that she can get what she wants, even if it’s something that makes no sense. An iPod of a different color is still an iPod. This isn’t like the horse of a different color saying at all. It has all the same features regardless of color (which, if you think about it, is true of horses). Furthermore, it’s utter bovine-excrement that pink isn’t in fashion. If it were Apple wouldn’t be selling Pink iPods. And last I checked Barbie hasn’t traded in all her pink dresses for a purple one (not that I keep up to date on Barbie).
If I’m Leigh here’s what I would do. I would grab a 2-3 Silicone iPod Cases in various colors for $25-35. Then I’d get her a couple of iTunes Gift Cards. At this point, she would have spent around $80 and came away with what I would consider more value than just an iPod in a different color. She can either chose to use up the rest of her budget on other things, or what I think I might do, put some money aside in an account to save for Laura’s first car in 10-12 years. Grandma Leigh wouldn’t have to tell her that’s what she is doing, but let me tell you, Laura is going to think she’s the best grandma ever when she gets ready to buy that car and has a head start of $800-$1000.
I wonder if Laura is going to be selling off her old pink iPod or if it’s going to be kept as a secondary one. If this is the case, and it’s in good condition, she might get decent enough value for it to make this whole rant somewhat unnecessary.