Marketers use many different sales tactics to capitalize on holiday sales. They have even created special sales days, where the deals are supposed to be the best.
The holiday buying craze officially kicks off with Black Friday, a sales day focused on in-store retail sales, and Cyber Monday, the e-commerce sales event offering huge deals for online purchases. A third sales event, Small Business Saturday, has also appeared in recent years with a focus on boosting small business purchases in local communities.
As businesspeople, we want to maximize our holiday sales while offering the best possible deals to our customers. However, as consumers, our agenda may be a little different.
Most people agree that Christmas is about helping people in need, showing those close to you how much you care, and spending time with friends and family. And for many people, the religious significance of Christmas remains of huge importance. However, while it's clear that the material aspect of the holidays has gained prominence, studies show that excessive gift giving may actually undermine well-being.
Even so, each holiday season we continue to spend. On average, individuals in the US spend approximately $500 for gifts, food, and decorations over the holiday season.
Whether you agree with gift giving or not, we should be aware of the marketing tactics companies use to push sales. By understanding our inherent psychological triggers, we can make smarter buying decisions and more fully enjoy the holiday season.
Here are 5 human flaws that marketers play to in order to increase holiday spending.
- The Need to Fit in - We are inherently socially conforming and compliant beings. When humans see someone doing something, we assume that it is right. Therefore, if we see everyone around us making large purchases on gifts, we assume this behavior is right for us too. Marketers do their best to make us feel like we need their product to fit in with our friends, family and peers. They also market the material side of the holidays and gift giving as a measure of emotional significance in relationships.
- Poor forecasting abilities - Humans struggle to predict the future. Even if we had more of something in the past, we can't predict that the material good had little effect on our overall happiness. To capitalize on this, marketers constantly show us a new version, or a better model, or a new upgrade on their products. Without the ability to properly forecast, we purchase more, and are forced to continually re-learn through experience.
- Looking for social validation - Humans innately want other people to like them. We are extremely social creatures, and a large portion of our happiness revolves around our community and close relationships. The emotional significance of gift giving is utilized especially well by industries selling high priced items like cars, jewelry, and diamonds. These big-ticket gifts have come to represent love and romance, and the pressure to gain social validations through large purchases is increased over the holidays.
- Overstimulation - When humans become overwhelmed, or put into a state of stress, we make irrational decisions. The holiday season, with it's crowded airports, bustling malls, and family tension can make us purchase items we may not originally intend. Marketers play on this human flaw, flooding us with sales clerks, blinking deal signs and endless purchase opportunities.
- The scarcity effect - When Humans think an opportunity is limited, they will work harder to be involved. Marketers play on this fear every day with time-sensitive deals, limited productions and holiday product releases.
It's important to understand our innate human flaws and be aware that marketers use them to influence our purchasing behaviors. By being educated about this reality, we can more consciously choose how we spend over the holiday season.