Something for you to think about as you form plans to shop at 5 a.m. this coming Friday--something called "implied scarcity."
you ever get a feeling of superiority when you hit a sale, use a
coupon, or whip out your store savings card? Did you know that’s what
the store managers intended for you to feel, carefully crafting their
ads and displays to make you think you’ve conquered the food budget?
Some examples of store tricks used to make us think we’re getting a real good bargain:
Green beans were being sold for thirty cents per can, and they weren't
selling at all. The price got changed from thirty cents to 3/$1.00
(that's a price INCREASE). The green beans started selling like
The following week, some of these same green beans
were moved to the end of the aisle in a special display—no sale price
or anything—just moved to a new location with the regular price on
them. The end display sold more green beans than the regular shelf
stock AT THE SAME PRICE.
On another occasion, a store was trying to get rid of some Swanson
potpies. On the sign with the price, they wrote "Limit 3." People
started buying them up. They even saw people buying three, going out to
their cars, then coming back in and buying three more.
make them seem special, some of the potpies got moved to a small
freezer display on the aisle end with the same sign. Guess which ones
Stores do stuff like that all the time, and that’s why it's a good reason to know general prices of things you usually buy.
do retailers bother to put limits on loss leaders? To limit their own
loss on these products…same for coupon cards, membership cards, VIP
cards, coupons, rebates, etc. Giving a feeling of exclusivity to some
customers makes them feel more important, and thereby giving them all
the psychological fuel they need to spend more. The store is already
taking a loss on the product by discounting it, but they can further
reduce the access to that discount by throwing a hurdle in your way
through store discount cards, coupons, rebates, etc. Meanwhile, your
“discount” experience is boosting your feeling about going there and
spending more—about 26% more—than you planned to, even with a list in
Why put limits on regular-priced merchandise, such as the
potpie example above, or the flat-screen TVs, or I-phones, or X-box
game consoles, or whatever else stores plan to sell far below normal
price to get you in their doors this coming Black Friday? To imply
scarcity--the feeling of getting them now while they’re hot. Nothing
moves slow-moving merchandise faster than implied scarcity these days.
rampant unemployment, don’t we have enough to contend with while trying
to feed our families and get by this holiday season? Now we have to
watch out for implied scarcity and exclusivity tricks while we try to
Remember that we’re not special and we don’t care if they
run out of something at the regular price or higher. Besides, when the
hoopla's over, the stuff usually goes on sale for an even CHEAPER price
after the door-buster event's over.
Just for fun, keep track of
the Black Friday prices on some coveted items, then keep track of
prices on those items after the event--all the way to January 31st. I
bet you'll find that lower prices will be had on the items after the
door-busters and holiday sales events are over, because retailers have
to clear their inventory for year-end taxes. They'd rather rack up a
tax-deductible loss than hang inventory over into another tax year,
making it worthless.
It really DOES pay to wait, and a smart
shopper does his/her shopping the tax season before the scheduled
holidays in the same year anyway--this means your holiday shopping for
2009 (and beyond) should be done after Christmas (every year) from now