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Sales without Substance

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Retailers use several methods, based in psychology, to get consumers to purchase their items. In “Mind your Pricing Cues” in the September 2003 issue of the Harvard Business Review, Eric Anderson and Duncan Simester explore how shoppers pay more for items ending in the number “9”, than in any other number. Also how the selective use of “SALE” signs influence us to purchase items, regardless of whether they are actually on sale.

As a Budget Fashionista, I love a good sale. The keyword is “SALE”. Marketers, business people, CEO’s who are out of touch with Budget Fashionistas like ourselves, fail to realize that it is not the sale sign alone that drives us to purchase. It is finding the “SALE”. It is going to the Prada Sample Sale and finding a Miu Miu tote for $45. It is finding a vintage Gucci baguette circa 1985 at the local Goodwill for $30. It finding white oxford shirts at Macys for $4.99. Behind every “SALE”, there must be a “FIND”. There is nothing more disappointing than walking into a store with a huge sale sign in the window and finding nothing but a smattering of tops and bottoms in size 0. St. John’s Knits is notorious for having sales without substance. However, for every overpriced knits retailer, there are stores like Banana Republic, Bloomingdales and Target who have sales with enough substance to make you an excellent candidate for group intervention. It is for this reason, that Budget Fashionista’s visit these stores as often as the ATM.

Sales without substance are consistently present because marketers, like CEO’s and the 1000s of Vice Presidents at a company, do not understand budget shopping because most do not shop. Studying shoppers and being a shopper is not the same thing. Shoppers are to marketers as athletes are to sport journalists. One watches and records the actions of the other. In order to understand the drive of the “Find”, these corporate executives must become shoppers. Perhaps, if they took the Jane Goodall approach to shopping and became “Marketers in the Shopping Mist”, there would be more sales with, instead of without, substance.

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  • Kathryn

    touche, touche.