Crazy price people are paying for Coles collectables
THE Coles' Little Shop collectables promotion has become a craze with people asking for hundreds of dollars to part with their sets.
It has sparked a lively swap and trade market online as people, including many adults, try to complete the set of 30 tiny grocery items.
Everton Hills mother Gemma Louise said she started collecting them for her children to play with.
" … but now I can't help but try and get the whole set," she said.
"My husband would like to hold onto it as he thinks it could be worth money some day, like basketball cards, Pokemon cards and the like. Ha ha.
"For me, it's just the satisfaction of knowing I have the full set.
"I'd say we have probably 30 pieces in total.
"We have always shopped at Coles but yesterday my Coles total came to $59.40 so of course I grabbed a chocolate at the counter for $1 to put me over $60 (Coles gives one collectable per $30 spent).
Sabrina Hutton, 8, of Stafford, is a keen collector and almost has a full set.
"I like that they are mini, they look like real products, the real thing," Sabrina said.
"I like the challenge to collect all 30."
Her mum Merredith supports her daughter's quest, saying she loved that it gave her the chance to learn about bartering, including social etiquette used when trading.
"What trades and deals are available provide good conversation at school in playtime and further develop her social skills and sense of fairness," she said.
"It helps her maths by counting up our grocery shop and how many we will receive.
"She also regularly counts how many she has and how many she needs.
"Importantly we have conversations about equity and charity (donating some to others who may not have them) and conversations about the environment."
Sabrina also loved the excitement and surprise of opening the pack to see what was inside, especially to see if it was one she did not have.
Pet photographer Ali Ralph has asked for people's surplus pieces, saying they make perfect props for shots of smaller animals such as birds and rats.
"It's hard to find miniatures as props but these are literally perfect for the smaller animals and it makes for such cute/fun pictures," she said.
Retail expert associate professor Gary Mortimer from QUT said people were conditioned to collect.
"Even as children we collect matchbox cars and Barbie dolls," professor Mortimer said.
"And then there's this element of conspicuous consumption. We want to display and show how much we've got - 'look at my entire collection of Matchbox cars or vintage cars or motorcycles'.
"So there is this element, we want to collect and then we want to demonstrate to others our proficiency in something, whether it be collecting stamps, or collecting vintage cricket bats.
"The other thing that's driving the Coles Little Shop collectables is this sense of surprise and anticipation.
"You don't know what you are going to get. It's a bit like a Kinder Surprise.
"Ultimately it is targeted at kids. Kids love collecting stuff.
"It's really designed to trigger that pester power. When you're in shopping with the kids, you can guarantee they'll go 'come on mum, spend an extra three bucks to get to $30 to get something.
"And because it comes in a little display case, you can display your collectable and show your friends.
"Although there would be adults who are collecting it.
"You can see that online. If you look at Gumtree, people are trying to sell this stuff for $15 (a piece) or, in some cases, entire sets for $300 or $400."
Prof Mortimer said achievement goal theory also played a role.
It was, he said, about trying to beat everybody else in the marketplace.
"You want to be the one who completed the full collection," he said.
Prof Mortimer said it was also great business for Coles as having customers spend just an extra dollar or two each visit would produce significant revenue gains.
"It also creates that repeat business - (people think) 'I haven't got the full set, I have to go back and shop again'," he said.
"It costs Coles nothing because its supplier funded. Suppliers will pay to have their product as a collectable.
"It's great marketing."