As deliveries on Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit thousands of homes this week, some began to feel sorry for buyers.
Our love of opportunity can sometimes mean spending more than expected, or in pursuit of value, receiving something that we neither want nor need.
Big events like Cyber Monday are creating retailers with one simple goal of making money. There is no law against this, but to what extent do they manipulate consumers?
We know there is a science in the supermarket schedule to get us to spend more and buy things that we may not have planned. So it can be assumed that the same applies to online events.
A simple ABC study of cyber psychology would suggest that internet retailers know what buttons to press. Experts have studied human behavior in this area, and there are certain factors that influence online shopping and increase the likelihood that we will buy on impulse.
Dr. Nicola Fox Hamilton is an expert in cyber psychology. She believes retailers have brought together all the elements that encourage us to spend more and think less.
Dr. Fox Hamilton said: “There are tons of sales and deals around Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and prices are something that really encourages people to buy on impulse.
“When you have a sale or an offer for a limited time, you also have shortages and we like things we can’t have.
“Let’s add urgency, and these two things taken together are paramount to our rational decision-making. It brings confusion, excitement and anxiety into the process, so we may not be making rational decisions that we would normally make. “
Wow! This sounds like an amazing recipe. Let’s hang it up.
Price points encourage shopping – it’s a hunger for bargains. Reducing your selling time does two things: urgency and rarity.
So we really care about the opportunity, we need to get it quickly and things sell out quickly, so the human brain screams “BUY NOW”. When you realize that all of these factors, in turn, cause confusion and anxiety, it sounds quite, well, manipulative.
But aren’t we smarter than that? Consumers have been watching sales for decades. Yes, there used to be January and summer sales, twice a year you could buy bargains – often huge discounts, stores sold out stocks to prepare for new lines of the season.
But with so many choices about where and how we shop now, there is no week where there is no sale somewhere. So are consumers not immune to advertising noise?
There is evidence that as people become more aware of marketing strategies, they tire themselves out and are less likely to fall in love with them. But price is our Achilles’ heel.
It looks like we just can’t resist the deal. So, even though we know many Cyber Monday or Black Friday deals have been available for weeks, if not months, we’re still stepping in.
Dr. Fox Hamilton said it was fairly simple psychology. “People are triggered by the communication around Black Friday, prices also set them free, product variety is also an attraction and it is still very likely that they will be sucked in.”
This buyer regret theory is also based on science. Have you ever stood at an ice cream counter in a movie theater or looked at a line of beer taps in a bar considering your choices, carefully considering your options, only to immediately regret your decision as soon as an ice cream or drink hits your mouth?
There is a reason for this. Apparently, the more choice we have, the worse our choice is. So does a wall with 100 TV sets displayed in an electronics hypermarket make sense now?
Dr Fox Hamilton said: “Six choices are optimal for people, and when that number exceeds 15, our decision-making processes really start to crumble and we make worse choices and are less happy with them.”
What? So too much choice is a bad thing? Apparently so.
Dr. Fox Hamilton continued: “It is more likely that we will regret these choices and experience loss of products or items that we have had to give up in exchange for purchasing the items we have chosen to buy.
“Having access to so many choices along with a timed urgency to sell can lead to bad decisions.”
So with online sales, this has never been more relevant. “When we make online decisions, there is an unprecedented choice of products. People are designed to make decisions with a small number of choices. “
But retailers see it differently, saying the sector is adapting to a rapidly changing trend in consumer behavior. Our desire to stay safe and avoid crowds, Covid restrictions, and other factors mean that far fewer of us visit malls or large stores.
We adapted very quickly to the online culture of clicking and gathering. Irish online retailers saw their sales increase by 130% this year.
A few years ago on Black Friday, 70% of sales went to British or international retailers. This year it has dropped to 60%. People choose Irish sellers – if Covid did one thing, it got more recognition for what was at hand.
I perfectly remember visiting about 10 large stores to try and buy a thermometer when the first “blockage” appeared. They were all sold out, nothing to buy. There were dozens of them at the little pharmacy around the corner. We have all had such experiences in recent months.
The way we spend proves it. It is a fight for big networks. But some might say it’s an off-pitch equalization. But even when we visit the stores now, we seem to be acting differently. This is a development that hits profits, and retailers don’t like it.
Duncan Graham leads Retail Excellence, which represents thousands of retailers in Ireland. Consumers now come to the stores well informed, after research, he said.
They know what they want, take it and go. Browsing seems to be going down.
The problem, he said, is reducing “dwell time”. “It affects the average transaction value, the average transaction value is slightly lower.
“Because people don’t hang out in the shops and go for a Christmas gift or two and go out.
“Earlier they would have gone there for longer and maybe they would have spent more, and of course it didn’t help that the cafes and restaurants weren’t open. So there was no attraction of people to the shops. “
So if they can’t contact us in the store and encourage them to spend more, they will definitely have to change?
Duncan Graham agreed. “You spend less time in stores, consumers do a lot more research before they enter the store, and they have a large selection of outlets and ways to shop.
“It has become a lot more complicated for retailers, we have to sell to customers online, we have to use all social media channels to promote ourselves, and all the traditional ways to reach customers.”
Most retailers smile when you ask them about the tactics we’ll use to spend our money on. End of the aisle promotion. The fact that some of the products we all want, such as bread and milk, are not only in the door next to the cash register.
Their strategy of getting us to spend money is well thought out and based on decades of consumer behavior and research. When we don’t spend our time wandering around anymore, it becomes difficult.
New ways to reach consumers are essential. Store brands that we all know are making their way to the internet in huge amounts. There are even government funds to increase your internet presence. He saved countless businesses from the most difficult period retail has faced since the economic collapse of the mid-2000s.
Trading is difficult. Only the toughest will survive. But it is facing the biggest challenge so far, and everyone knows it will be a permanent change.
Duncan Graham is very open about it. “There will be no return to 2019, we will change dramatically.”
She focuses on helping her members to adapt and survive, but ponders a completely different picture. “We are not going to go back in terms of the current online state, it will only increase.
“The challenge will be what we do with our towns and city centers as there will inevitably be space in these areas.
“How we bring the customer back to the store and the city center residence will be critical and must be part of the government’s plan for the next five to ten years.”
If retailers plan to empty commercial units in cities, the future is worrying. It also presents a challenge for retailers.
The promotion foundations they relied on are no longer as effective. Large upscale stores and even supermarkets are designed to make us spend money. The surroundings and the environment in high-end stores make us buy expensive things.
So if we shop online, we avoid it right? No, eh, wrong! Dr. Fox Hamilton also did his homework on this.
“Very hassle-free online shopping, where your credit card details are already entered and the address is stored from previous purchases, makes it extremely fast and hassle-free.”
We like it simple, but this love of worry-free shopping has a deeper psychology. “The lower the friction, the less likely you are to exit this process, and take a moment to think about it. spend more. “
So wait, if we don’t really feel the notes slide through our fingers, are we spending more? Yes, said Dr. Fox Hamilton.
“When you donate actual cash, there is a pain factor in it, you can see the cash flowing out of your wallet, causing people to self-regulate their spending.
The further you are from there, the more you can spend, so if you need to take out your credit card to use it, it’s one step away from a cash transaction.
“But if you’re using PayPal or Apple Pay, or your credit card details are already stored, you’re even further away from handing over cash, so it might be easier to overpay.”
Irish consumers spend around EUR 10 billion a year on the Internet. 90% of us buy online. All studies show this increase.
We can be as careful as we like, most of us are smart and see a mock limitation against the real thing. But regardless of this, we have one major drawback – we are human.
We are programmed to fall prey to certain things, especially the love of opportunity!
But there is something else that matters more than saving money or making sure we don’t get ripped off. Even though many of us grew up, they were taught that material goods don’t matter, for some they simply matter.
Sure, money doesn’t make a man or a woman, but having nice things in dark times can help us a bit.
Many of us use shopping as a mood regulator. Retail therapy is not just a phrase. A final word to the person who knows more than most about it, Dr. Nicola Fox Hamilton.
“Since people are going through a difficult period related to the pandemic, it is possible that they are shopping online more because of it,” she said.
“People may use shopping to raise their emotions, but sometimes they also use it to deal with sadness or negative moods by engaging in emotional regulation through shopping.”
Afternoon retail therapy? I agree!