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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 04-Jan-08

 


Friday 04-January-08

Sale talk

The January sales are traditionally a post-Christmas whoopsie where retailers sell off their pre-Christmas over-estimates and under-selling. It is also a new-year kick-start, re-igniting the consumer economy after the Christmas spend-fest. Shoppers look forward to the bargain-hunting and sometimes find a good deal, though they are as likely to be drawn in by alluring signs then up-sold to buy-now specials that keep the retailers laughing all the way to the bank.

I recently made note of a few of the phrases used on shop signs and was disappointed by their tired lack of originality. Here are some of the familiar culprits:

  • Everything must go
  • Hurry!!
  • Further reductions
  • Whilst stocks last
  • This week only
  • Buy one get one free
  • Buy one get one half price
  • Up to xxx/xxx% off
  • Save up to xxx
  • Price meltdown
  • Massive winter clearance
  • End-of-season reductions

A few basic persuasion principles are used in these messages. The underlying principle of all sales is scarcity: that we want something more when it is in limited supply, where the anticipated regret of wanting it when it is no longer available compels us to buy it now.

Sales often also use the lever of appealing to greed, such as in the 'buy one get one free' message (known in the trade as a 'bog-off'). The difference between 'xxx off' and 'xxx% off' can be tricky. Would you prefer $20 off or 20% off? Of course it depends on the actual price, but you do not know this when you are looking at the big signs and not at the item ticket.

It has been said that a bargain is something you can't possibly use at a price you can't possibly resist. This is a handy phrase to keep in mind when shopping in the sales. Value is the key criterion you should use in any purchase, so always ask yourself - would I really use it?


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