“A good or service acquired at a price advantage to the buyer.” I remember this definition of the noun “bargain” from a marketing seminar I attended a few years ago. At first, it seemed quite obvious. After a little thought, the definition revealed a couple of psychological secrets about buyers.
The key is in the word “advantage”. 1. When a quality item carries a low price tag, a potential customer will usually feel she has the advantage over the seller. 2. When the perception of buyer having the advantage is repeated, the positive reinforcement helps create a new habit.
You and I know the wonderful feeling of acquiring a true bargain. There’s the tingle of an adrenalin rush and the afterglow of satisfaction when the bargain priced object is admired. It doesn’t matter if the thing is a trinket from a garage sale, or a new car. The only difference is the amount of exhilaration we feel.
When you look over your home environment, you’ll probably notice how many of your personal possessions are bargains. Perhaps you were convinced to buy your sofa because it was part of a “clearance sale” at a furniture store. Maybe the particular store was chosen because the business had a name that implied low prices.
A big giveaway is if the word “warehouse” is part of the name. Warehouse implies great numbers of products that must be cleared out “at cost”. We know that retailers lower their prices in order to empty their shelves and floors. In many instances, a large, gleaming sign in the window proclaims “liquidation”. In the buyer’s mind, that word makes us think of a desperate store manager eager to get rid of his inventory.
Hyperbole is the key. We are told that this is our last chance to take advantage of such low prices. Prices have been slashed. Everything must go. You’ll be sorry if you miss out. The words and the sales pitches are as old as the hills, but they’re as effective as ever.
Do you doubt it? Just remember, we have such a thing called “Black Friday”. Talk about a peculiar name for a sales event. “Black” anything usually implies disaster. “Black Tuesday” was the terrible stock market crash of 1929. Do consumers of Black Friday sales believe that stores are on the brink of bankruptcy so merchandise must be liquidated to satisfy the stores’ creditors? I’ve never gone shopping on a Black Friday, so I don’t know for sure. Maybe there’s a darker urge motivating the massive crowds.
That doesn’t mean that some actual bargains don’t exist. All one has to do, is go garage sailing, or shop at thrift stores. The very concept of recycling is manifested when second hand goods are offered by people who need to get rid of excess possessions and get a few bucks to justify the effort.
Ever since the economic downturn of 2008, thrift stores and consignment sales stores have become more popular than ever. Now, consumers not only enjoy the mental perception of price advantage, they also know that they are helping the environment by reusing things that may otherwise be discarded in a landfill. The fact is, these perceptions are largely true. People are getting rid of extra stuff and thrift stores charge enough to cover their overhead and make a little bit on the side.
My buying habits fall into the recycling category. Thrift stores are my venues of choice simply because of the positive reinforcement they have provided. Really nice things that might have gone to a dumpster, have come home with me for a pittance. I’ve enjoyed the thrill of the hunt countless times.
This week is national Bargain Hunting Week. You know I’m pumped about it.