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I am by no means a shopaholic; in fact, I consider myself to be quite strict when it comes to my finances but I’ve got to admit that Black Friday feeling got the better of me this year. With “deals so good you would be mad to miss out” I just couldn’t take that chance. I had to take an extended lunch break and weasel my way through the isles of Checkers to find these massively marked-down products.

What is it about sales that makes people excited and anxious all at the same time? Psychologists have found that people have an emotional reaction to sales. Price reductions are tempting and appealing as they challenge the status quo, consumers feel empowered. The way I see it bargains are as good as it gets when it comes to shopping, it is the ultimate reward for consumers.

There are 4 major factors to this emotional reaction to sales:

1. Is the percentage saving big?

Consumers pay a lot more attention to the percentage size of a saving than to how much they’re actually saving. Consumers get excited to see a massive reduction in prices without considering whether it is true value for money.

2. Is it urgent? (I.e. a limited time offer)

Never-to-be-repeated! Only valid until January! Offer valid while stocks last! Stores will often create artificial limitations, which gives urgency to our actions. If something is only around for a short while, then we should probably go for it now, just in case it runs out. This is a fundamental human drive.

3. Is it popular?

This is a classic trait that dates back centuries, if everyone else is buying it, it must be good. When we see lots of people queuing up to get into a shop at midnight, we think to ourselves, “Well, they must have some good bargains in there!”

4. Is it exclusive?

Consumers want to know that they are getting something that isn’t available to everybody, and that itself makes the item in question more attractive to us. Limited editions, special runs and customizations are all common ways in which retailers create a sense of exclusivity.

Takealot.com managed to squeeze all these principles into their sales process.

Percentage saving, making it clear how much you are saving. Deals ends in a specified time period, creating urgency – “Act now or lose out!” Popularity and

Deals ends in a specified time period, creating urgency – “Act now or lose out!”

Popularity and exclusivity – only certain number of units of product available.

Black Friday Behaviour

The Black Friday phenomenon has grown rapidly in South Africa in the past two years and provides the perfect example of consumers’ immediate response to this type of stimulus. People truly want to get a good deal which makes them more susceptible to making irrational buying decisions.

The power of crowds of shoppers also heightens emotions and amps up our competitive instincts. Shopping is often described as a competitive sport. And with items that are discounted and in short supply, the fear of “missing out” is heightened by the knowledge that you’re competing with others to get your hands on them.

Customers can be seen queuing from the early hours of the morning in order to be the first to get their hands on certain products.

Hordes of consumers, trolleys in hand, waiting for the store to open.

Shopping is often an emotional investment too. Many shoppers feel pressure to make good on that investment by not leaving a store empty-handed when a sale pops up. In some cases, the deal itself is reward enough. People feel a sense of pride or accomplishment or like a skilled shopper when they are able to capitalise on a sale. As seen in this image, this customer loaded their trolley with 3 flat screen TVs. I’m sure he/she feels like they got the most out of this sale.

Retailers use every trick at their disposal to make these sales extremely enticing and tempting to consumers, however the appearance of a sale doesn’t always translate into savings. Careful discounting strategy gives the retailer an upper hand. A savvy shopper could bag a bargain, but you need to do your research beforehand.

Moral of the story: Be sure to shop responsibly!

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