Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

You can subscribe to this site via RSS (the humanity!) or .

Spam and Inferior Goods

The Times points out that products like Spam are doing better than ever with the economy on the decline: “Even as consumers are cutting back on all sorts of goods, Spam is among a select group of thrifty grocery items that are selling steadily. Pancake mixes and instant potatoes are booming. So are vitamins, fruit and vegetable preservatives and beer, according to data from October compiled by Information Resources, a market research firm.” (Paper towels, socks, shoe polish and women’s fragrance are examples of things on the decline.)

Apparently, all of these fit into the category of inferior goods, which “is a good that decreases in demand when consumer income rises, unlike normal goods, for which the opposite is observed. Inferiority, in this sense, is an observable fact relating to affordability rather than a statement about the quality of the good.” The thing I don’t get about the Times list, though, is why vitamins are in there? What about vitamins would make people buy more of them when things go sour? Seems like an example of a luxury (after all, you can easily get vitamins from food). Sure it could be because people are eating less healthy foods and so they’re trying to make up for it, but that would put a lot of faith in the healthiness of the American public that I don’t have …

November 15, 2008