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Paint it Black

Optimize Blog - November 26, 2010 - 0 comments

So November 26th in the USA is the famous (or perhaps infamous) ‘Black Friday’ – so named because it is the day of the year when retailers traditionally hope to leave the “red” and enter the “black”, breaking even or making a profit.
For many US families, it’s a Thanksgiving tradition as important as turkey stuffing or pumpkin pie: rise before the crack of dawn the morning after the holiday, wait for the mall to open, and start chasing down the bargains.
And let’s not forget the retailer’s aspirations where in some cases, holiday purchases make up 25 to 40 percent of their annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). This year, the NRF is predicting a growth in holiday sales of 2.3 percent, which would put sales at $447.1 billion. Because of their dependence on holiday shoppers, retailers pull out all the stops on Black Friday.
But what makes a person rise at the crack of dawn, join massive lines, fight to get a look at the bargains available and even risk injury to satisfy their need to snap up a bargain? It speaks to human nature, consumer psychologists say. The limited-time-only nature of Black Friday triggers an innate fear of scarcity that drives people to buy.
“People truly want to get a good deal, and so they might be less rational when they can look in the environment and find different cues that make them think they’re getting a good deal,” Kenneth Manning, a professor of marketing at Colorado State University says; “The decision-making can be somewhat emotional.”
Gad Saad, a professor of marketing at Concordia University in Montreal has found that biology informs shopping decisions. Men who engage in conspicuous consumption, like driving around in a fancy Porsche instead of an old sedan, experience a testosterone surge, Saad reported in 2009 in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. He’s also found evidence that men and women navigate shopping situations in ways consistent with the hunting and gathering behaviors of our savannah ancestors.
Seen in that light, holiday sales could be playing on innate mechanisms and the marketers are getting good at playing to these basic mechanisms and we see quite elaborate tactics and sophistication to extract the most money from consumer’s wallets. In some cases, the deal itself is reward enough.
At Zeitgeist this got us thinking about ‘bargains in business’. A key element of the leadership role is managing our stakeholders and our colleagues who may not necessarily see the world in the same way that we do. In many case we need to go in search of the bargain – to negotiate a deal so that we can get our goals and objectives completed. Unlike Black Friday however, our colleagues and stakeholders are generally not driven by the same things that retailers are so they may not be so willing to grant the bargain that we might be looking for.
Nevertheless, for us to execute on our business objectives we need to constantly negotiate support and engagement and reinforce commitment from those that have influence over our plans. Your calendar should reflect the fact that you are spending time negotiating and reinforcing these ‘business bargains’. Remember also that for something to be considered a bargain each party needs to feel that they have been treated fairly and that the negotiations have had a positive impact on their self evaluation. Who do you need to go and negotiate with and secure a bargain with today? Which colleague have you been avoiding lately even though you know you need to negotiate some support or resource to ensure your success? What bargains can you positively reflect on that you have negotiated so far this year?
While plenty of people have opinions on how to get the best deals on Black Friday, keeping a clear head in the midst of the excitement is key the experts say. “Having a list, knowing exactly who you’re shopping for and what your budget is [what you are prepared to pay] is key” says Lisa Cavanaugh, a consumer psychologist at the University of Southern California who researches holiday shopping. The same applies when you are shopping for your ‘business bargains’.

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