Online deals are great, but refraining from frivolous shopping saves you more

If you’re able to steer away from the eager brands outbidding each other for your attention, then you’d surely search articles online – media or bloggers – for the most attractive deals. In short, there’s no excuse for missing out. And that’s exactly what brands love.


Enough has been spoken and written on consumerism in the developed world. In the pre-liberalisation era beginning the early 1990s, there was a clear distinction between the American and Indian markets. Alas, the perils of globalisation. Personally, I believe globalisation results in a better choice for us consumers. But then, there are two sides to any coin, right? And with choice, comes the need for restraint. Welcome, deals.

The festive season brings in euphoria

It always has. India still regards auspicious days before major buying decisions. Consumers may research whenever they want, but if the deal value is significant, then there’s a greater possibility that the purchase would wait for one of the more auspicious occasions. Brands factor this into consumer research. And findings result in crafting specific campaigns around the festive season.

The fear of missing out

Most deals you’d ever hear of, focus on the intrinsic human fear of missing out. If you’ve ever made a purchase – either online or offline – you’d reminisce the joy of harping on how great a deal you found. And if someone told you they got the same product for Rs 1000 less, you drop from jubilee to gloom. Such is the impact of human psychology.

There is significant amount of psychological research (via The Guardian) that goes into the patterns around impulsive buying. Great minds in ecommerce companies craft algorithms that ensure the amount you transact is far higher than what you initially planned to.

The thoughts ‘if only I knew’ would haunt you for a while. That’s practically why technology media is out there to help you discover the best deals. If ecommerce paid campaigns aren’t effective. Facebook ads, Google ads, AdWords, Direct emailers, Sponsored Tweets, Paid Trends on Twitter, or even Organic Trends via paid influencers. The list is long.

If you’re able to steer away from the eager brands outbidding each other for your attention, then you’d surely search articles online – media or bloggers – for the most attractive deals. In short, there’s no excuse for missing out. And that’s exactly what brands love.

The fear of being left out

Stocks are limited. Hurry. Ever seen a sale or deal with those impactful words? Whether brands are desperate to sell, or whether it’s struggling, marketing 101 requires the use of these typical words in campaigns. Even kirana stores in India (mom-and-pop stores) would hand out bills with the words Free in triplicate and an additional triple exclamation for added emphasis.

The play with limited stock helps brands create enough buzz to increase the possibility of selling devices that otherwise wouldn’t get consumer interest. The widespread mania to tap into eager consumers leads to a sense of urgency. The result is a mix of good deals and added weight of buying products that you don't necessarily need.

If inventory levels are limited, the play is always around how great a deal it is. Users and the larger audience out there fail to foresee the impending product refresh that is expected. Is there going to be a new version of the products, that warrant exhausting the current inventory? Ever walked into a retail store and wondered why the fruit juice cartons have a buy-one-get-one-free offer? On closer inspection, you'd realise that one of those packs are nearing expiry. The two packs are also probably sewn together in cellophane tape. Which is why you didn't notice the expiry date. Although your initial instinct would want to get the best, the impulsive behaviour kicks in, and goes for the cheaper deal.

The details are in the fine print

The details are always in the fine print. Are you paying extra for shipping? Did you get swayed by the last minute additions that you didn't really need? And once you checked on the extra boxes, did you begin justifying the decision because you didn't really need it? According to the terms and conditions page on Amazon India, there are clearly demarcated slabs on how shipping is dealt with. To get a better idea, let's assume you need a low value product like a memory card that costs Rs 200. If that's all you needed, the probability of you adding up a couple of additional orders to qualify for free shipping is high. Amazon isn't isolated. Other ecommerce services are no different. Because the business models are alike.

Interestingly, you won't opt for free shipping as a reason when evaluating the purchase. However, when you are in the zero moment of truth, when you're placing the other, your expectation is to receive the product at the earliest. You may have looked for the best possible deal for memory cards. Possibly even saved anywhere between Rs 50-100. But when you're about to make the payment, you're likely to add in a few more products to make best use of your 'time'. Time spent making the transaction, and time to delivery. If a few hundreds more can qualify you for same day delivery for free, why not, you'd think. Without realising, you've spent more than double of what you intended to spend.

Don't spend if you don't need to

This is what experience teaches you. This is how we were before the advent of rampant consumerism. We saved and spent. Rather than borrow and splurge. Sometimes, the right thing to do is to be indifferent to glossy advertisements. If you love street shopping (or have been forced to accompany someone), you'd know the power of bargaining. There are also a few trade secrets that women seem to adhere to. A few lessons I've learned are: if you're genuinely interested in the product, act indifferent. That's when you are able to buy your way into the deal.

If you stand in awe before the storekeeper, there's no way on earth you'd be able to bring the price down. Because both – you as a customer and the storekeeper – would expect the other to budge. But in your case, since you sound so excited, the chance of you giving in to your inherent weakness is higher. Your first line of defence to this would be? In online deals, there is no human to see your reaction? Yes. That holds. But cookies are at work as well. Your browsing history gives a fair amount of detail for an e-commerce service to gauge your interest. Did you know, when you browse through websites to book a flight ticket, the prices increase based on your persistent searches? Such are learnings that are used to extract a higher price from consumers.

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