A few weeks ago we were grocery shopping with my flatmate when she got all excited and grabbed a bottle of vinegar shouting ‘it is only 23p’!. I just couldn’t believe that a bargain could make someone so happy so I wanted to see if she was an exception to the rule.
In a post-recession era, shopping for the lowest price is key as consumers are savvy and want to ensure they don’t splash out too much. This is true for over 7 in 10 Brits, as 74% shop around to get the best price available. And this is not something specific to lower income audiences as higher incomes feel the need to cut the budget on some essentials to allow treats and luxury when buying less essential products. Therefore, 46% of people earning £50K and more say they don’t like paying full price for any products, which is only slightly lower than average (51%).
But it seems that bargaining goes beyond pure functionality as looking for the best prices and discount shopping can be a hobby that consumers truly enjoy. There are now 73% of British consumers that admit they love the thrill of getting a bargain showing how big this phenomenon is.
The University of Toronto provided an explanation to this. They conducted research with shoppers asking them to buy a product with the $10 they gave them. One group was allowed to keep the leftover money and another group had to give the leftover money back. And within those subjects, some people were given full price products to buy and others different amounts of discounts. The research found that people who bought a discounted product and had to give the leftover money back were as happy as the people who got a deal and were allowed to keep the money, showing that getting a deal on a product makes people truly happy. It seems that it appeals to people’s perception that they’d been treated fairly and people’s self-evaluation.
Psychologist Gad Saad provides a scientific explanation for this self-evaluation feeling when shopping for cut prices. He has found evidence that shoppers’ behaviour is consistent with the hunting and gathering behaviours of our savannah ancestors where being able to bring food back from a hunt makes a member of the group congratulated and seen as strong.
And this is something seen even stronger in special deals day situations such as Black Friday or Boxing day. The competitive aspect of the hunt means instinct gets even stronger. We all remember the footage of Asda’s customers fighting over a TV during Black Friday.
This is something that Amazon tapped into brilliantly by creating Prime Day: its own yearly special discounts day.
Other great examples include easyJet that offers special winter sales for its flights for a limited amount of time or the messaging of deals providers such as Wowcher or Groupon.
So offering deals and bargains can be a great way to create an emotional connection with consumers as they feel more respected by the brand. However, it is key to keep the excitement by not offering too many deals too often as well as not devaluing the quality of the product by offering prices that seem unrealistic.