Slideshows | August 27, 2014

Seven thinking traps that can suck in shoppers in sales

You’ve spotted a laptop on sale with 30% off. It looks like what you’re looking for.

The store is offering free delivery and there’s enough credit on your card to buy now. Before snapping up the deal, it might pay to take a breath and consider the thinking traps that might be in play. Sale signs with numbers on them have been shown to increase the amount shoppers buy, according to a study cited here.

Shop around, consider cash-only
Simply seeing the word “sale” sparks thoughts of low price – even if that’s not truly the case. If the starting price is inflated, the discounted price may not actually represent a cheap deal. Combat this by researching deals at other vendors. Impulsively buying a sale item with a credit card could come back to bite you.

The bill is effectively paid a month or so in the future – reducing the connection between the pain of paying and getting the goods. Studies suggest this might have implications for overspending.



Once you start…
Deciding to buy one item may increase the chance you’ll buy other items. A study from Stanford looks at momentum – urging shoppers to beware. Buying the sale item could lead to a few full priced ones.


EUR20 is worth the same
Is a EUR20 discount more appealing on a EUR50 calculator than on a EUR1250 laptop? Many will think about it as a share of the original cost. Remember the buying power of the discount.


How much is full price elsewhere?
Simply seeing the word “sale” sparks thoughts of low prices, research has shown. But what if the previous price was inflated? Suddenly the sale price is not such a good deal.


Beware the power of “free”
Free deliveries, extra items and “free” offers are highly appealing. If tempted, look deeper. Costs might be worked out in another way and deals typically offer stores a chance to sell more.


I’ll just put it on the credit card
Cards are an easy option that reduce the pain of paying, compared to handing over cash. During sales, consider withdrawing only a set sum of cash and paying only with that.


Drip, drip, drip of extra costs?
Delivery is free, but what about software, card fees and handling charges? Drip pricing or unadvertised extras make the total hard to compare with prices elsewhere.


Available for a limited time only
It’s a sales cliché for good reason. Increasing the urge to “buy now”, limited time offers push us to buy by making the item or deal seem scarce.


eZonomics team
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