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marketing numbers

when you go to Buy Things, you get flooded with $x.99 sort of values. Gas even goes as far as to charge you $x.xx and 9/10s of a cent. Yet when you're looking at the *sale* of something, sales are in easy to understand numbers. Up to 50% off. $40 off of the tag price. Buy one get one free.

One of the obvious high impact markets of this scheme is groceries/supermarkets. Usually if you have some sort of Rewards Card, you can get bargains off of various things in the store. In particular, Slaveway and Mormonsons (yes i know that Albertson's isn't owned by Mormons anymore) have the savings tags set up where there's a large font figure that doesn't actually tell you exactly what you're saving, but instead presents what you're saving in easy to understand numbers that fits the actual savings they want to give you. They'll pick whatever is easiest to understand of, say, "$5.00 off!" versus "25% off!" versus "5 for $7.00!". Then in a smaller font towards the bottom of the tag they'll tell you how much you're Actually Saving per unit. Where this feels the most manipulative is when you have something whose regular price is, say, $0.95, and they put up a sale price that says, "9 for $9.00!" How many people do the actual math?

So what if the paradigm of regular prices versus sale prices was reversed? What if things on the shelf were priced at easy to understand prices, even to the point of using dollars and no cents, but sale prices and percentages are like "Save 18% off!" "Take $21.59 off the regular price!" "Buy three at regular price and get two at 56% discount!"

The thing i would want to know the most is how much it would actually hurt the sale/discount side of things. The knee-jerk reaction i have is that it would hurt a great deal because people would get too confused by the numbers they're seeing. But a different part of me thinks that it wouldn't actually matter because the general public doesn't care how much they're saving so long as they feel like they're saving *something*.

I remember reading about some survey where a huge percentage of people were less likely to buy a product at $80 regular pricetag than they were that same product at 20% off of a $100 regular pricetag. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd be more likely to buy it at 10% the $100 regular price tag versus an $80 regular price tag. Which is horrible because i think this is one of the reasons why things have heavily inflated price tags in the first place.

The fact that i'm very conscious and aware of this sort of thing seems odd since i don't micromanage my own spending - i feel that such effort to track every last penny is ultimlatey unimportant and too much stress for the life i'm trying to lead. But i think it's the mentality and the psychology of it all is what i react to because i find it fascinating.

and a little insane, i guess. *shrug*

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Oct. 11th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
rewards cards can be evil. I'm learning in consumeristics that besides tracking your purchase history, eventually grocery stores will sell this information to insurance companies. What company would insure an obese man who buy nothing but those damn deep-fried Hungry Man things? Creepy, I tell ya.
Oct. 11th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
I bought a ton of games through work for a one-time deal. Funny thing is, as soon as I got the games home, I went through them to see which ones I wanted to play, and I kinda didn't want to play any of them. I bought them 'cause they were dirt cheap compared to retail. So that if by some weird chance way down the line in the future if I want to buy that game, I'll already have it for cheaper :D
Oct. 11th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC)
see?? you played right into their hands!
Oct. 12th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
but....I might want to play those games sometime in the future...and when I do, I'll be very glad I bought them when I did.
Oct. 12th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
but what if you never end up wanting to play those games like you initially thought?

Although i can sometimes adopt and use what you describe to my advantage too, i'm still much more picky about what i choose to buy despite great bargains because i've learned that bargains come and go and exist *everywhere*. Again using the grocery analogy, Mormonson's might have eggplant on sale for like 75% off, and i might say, "oooh!" but when i think about what i have lined up in the next few days/weeks, i have to ask myself, "am i going to have time to cook this? Will i actually end up using it or throwing it away?" and if the answer is even 60% or so likely that i'll throw it away, i'll most likely pass because i know that the sale will eventually happen again. Maybe not exactly the same deal, but similar enough that it just doesn't make sense to buy it now.

Video games/technology doesn't "go bad" like vegetables do, but there's still a similar principle that can be applied because of how that stuff changes as the market changes. Take some random game like... i dunno. FFXIII. New, it's $50. But say as an incentive when it comes out, a store packages it with those who missed out on FFXII which has a current pricetag of $30. As a "Special Deal!" they put a collective pricetag of $60. And i think, "nice. I never got XII when it was new and always meant to play it, and XIII looks awesome. It's a great deal. i should pick it up."

But the problem with that line of thinking is that if it doesn't matter to me that i get the "instant gratification of something new!" frenzy when it comes to those games and i don't intend to play either of them for the unforseeable future, buying them now doesn't make sense. Because undoubtedly both of them will turn into those "greatest hits" sort of thing and end up being priced at $15. So if i say to myself, "i don't think i'm going to devote energy to these games for at least six to eight months", then it's better to wait the 6-8 months for the prices on those things to drop naturally to something even below what i would be getting as a bargain if i bought it on sale now. And i can use the $60 i *would* spend on this Special Deal to buy twice as many greatest hits of things that i didn't buy two years ago because i thought the same thing, if i'm even still interested in them.

Sales and deals and such will always exist. The market would collapse without them. basing my spending on Deals rather than my actual needs or wants ignores that and ultimately makes me spend more than i have to.
Oct. 11th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
aaand, as another aside, this is precisely why i'll most likely never buy anything off of woot. :)
Oct. 12th, 2007 01:01 am (UTC)
This is why I online shop alot.
I put all my impulse buys in my cart.
Give it a couple of days and then if I still want it I buy it.

What is wrong with you?! :) Who thinks about this in this amount of detail?!
Oct. 12th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)

honey, did you expect any less from me? :)

*so much love*
Oct. 13th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)
Exactly!! :) *big hugs*
Oct. 13th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)
Exactly!! :) *big hugs*
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