Are you looking forward to Black Friday, in anticipation of the massive savings you’re going to make buying new gear? Hoping to get the last of 2017 kit at 30% off? Maybe even 50% off? Thinking of buying a £100 box of kit for £60?
Before you do, make sure you read these 7 techniques that all of the big brands and retailers use to influence how you buy.
This is also known as reciprocity and the concept is simple – if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them. So this might be a free lesson, a free pizza and prosecco evening, or a free pump and digital camera. According to the theory, if you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve been the victim of reciprocity. The strength of reciprocity has been tested in numerous experiments, and where the restaurant only met the norm – providing one mint – the tip jumps 3.3%. When the exceed expectations by providing two expense mints per customer, the tip jumps by 20%.
So when you see a freebie – don’t get overexcited. It’s probably not free but actually loaded into the price point, and it’s only there to make you buy. And often the freebie, in the world of watersports is a really low value of poor quality item, and the cost has already been included in the sale price anyway!
Have you ever played the game where one person says a word, and the other immediately responds with the first thing that comes to mind? That’s kind of how priming works. You’re exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus.
So how does this work in watersports sales?
Notice when you go to an expensive brands website, price isn’t the first thing you see? You might see a stunningly well presented video that shows lots of young, happy paddlers having the time of their lives. Or it might show a stunning carousel of the kit being used in high octane adventurous activities. These things are designed to prime you to something other than the high price point of the expensive luxury goods.
And at the other end, the really cheap budget brands what’s the first thing you see? The price in big red lettering, normally with some sort of discount already built in. So you’re primed to the higher price which makes the discounted price even better. And surely everyone now knows that you never purchase the item on day 1. The trick that every savvy buyer knows now is to register, login, put the desired item in your basket, and then go away again. Invariably with budget brands you will get an email overnight asking why you’ve left the item in your basked and offering you a further discount. And this price then seems even more attractive because you had been primed to a higher price. Just make sure you unsubscribe quickly after the purchase otherwise you will not doubt be spammed every day with their best offers once you’ve succumbed to one marketing trick!
So watch out for these subtle priming techniques. You might not even know it, but the shop or search engine might already have details on your purchasing habits and spending power, your age and location, and be serving up a primed advert or website that is specifically tailored to you.
I’m sure that everyone is aware of the power of social media marketing these days. But brands rely heavily on the power of ‘social proof’. That is the theory that people will adopt the believes and actions of others. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve holidayed in a location with lots of restaurants / tavernas. One night, ‘restaurant A’ might be really busy and ‘restaurant B’ is totally dead. Despite you knowing full well that the food on offer is equally good, and the menu and prices similar. And yet later in the week, ‘restaurant B’ is full to the which restaurant got the first customers that night. Once a restaurant has customers, then it is more likely to attract customers. And have you noticed that you no longer get offered window seats in restaurants, and you used to be offered them regularly? These are prime marketing material for restaurants, and they try to fill them with hip and attractive 20 something couples.
In the watersports branding world, shares, likes, reposts are all important demonstrations of social proof. So make sure you’re really only giving your social proofing to brands that you’re actually to recommend to your friends!
Oh, and if you do like a brand page and / or share their content just to enter their competition (and who hasn’t), but you’d rather not give that brand your props in the future, you can always go back after the comp to unlike the page or post!
This is the art of generating artificial price points to make the most expensive (or the highest margin to the retailer) seem most attractive. The example below shows how this works.
The lesson here is that those savings aren’t ‘real’, and if you ever did want to buy a board only package, you might that if you talk to the retailer, as the decoy price of £750 is a starting point for a negotiation!
There are some boards being sold for 40% off in 2019 Black Friday deals that have never been sold at the alleged higher price. There are some direct sale brands that have had sale prices on the same boards for over 12 months now!
Ever gone back to a product that you looked at yesterday, and which now suddenly says ‘Only 3 left at this price’?
Did you know that some only stores can record your visits and change the message they give you to generate the of scarcity? Admittedly, that’s a whole level of coding and design that most watersports sellers do not stoop to, but it is theoretically possible. But many do employ the scarcity tactic generally “make sure you buy now because this discounted price will only last for the three we have in stock”. And the aim is to make you buy there and then. Beafore you find out that there are better deals out there elsewhere, or alternatively, before they discount the price even more in the week before Christmas because they really need to shift that stock!
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to resist a sale at your favourite SUP retailer?
Often, it has to do with anchoring – people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. So if your favourite store typically retails this year’s boards for £900, but you find them on sale on Black Friday or at the end of the season for £650, you’ll be over the moon. And using the power of social proof, you will also tell of your friends what a great deal you got. But if your friend has already got as good a board for £600, they won’t be nearly as impressed. That original price has two purposes. Firstly taking money from the early adopters and fashionistas who just can’t wait for the right price, and just have to have the new kit (even if it’s no different to what they already ride). And secondly, it’s a decoy – to act as an anchor to make the discount price seem so attractive.
And going back to a point made earlier, this is why retailers will state the initial price of the product (this is “setting” the anchor), and then display the sale price right next to it, even with a % reduction just to make it totally option.
Some brands contract their retailers to only sell at the RRP until a certain date in the year, at which point they can sell at a discounted price. This is all to do with ‘anchoring’ that price point, and getting that price point widely understood, and making sure that the ‘price means quality’ principle is firmly established.
They’re everywhere these days
Ever first noticed a new brand, and then start seeing it everywhere you look? You can thank the The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It starts happening after you encounter something for the first time, and then you start noticing it cropping up in everyday life. Suddenly you see friends using the kit that you hadn’t spotted before, and then it appears all over your facebook feed, and in your google search products, and on insta.
It’s weird right?
This phenomenon (also called “the frequency illusion”) is caused by two processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you first notice something. You subconsciously look for it in the future, and as a result find it surprisingly often. Secondly, confirmation bias reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.
And this effect is really important to brands. Many adopt something called retargeting, which involves their ads being served up to you tie and time again if you have clicked on their website. And if you have liked something on facebook or insta for example, the algorithms will make sure you see more of the content from that brand in the future. The conbination of this effect, plus targeted emails from those brands you signed up to, reconfirms the bias in your mind that they must be reliable companies if they are so ubiquitous!
According to a study by Poppenk, Joanisse, Danckert, and Köhler, people are more likely to remember the gist of what someone said, not the specific details. And in these days of information overload, this is especially true. Brand marketers know this and structure their content in such a way that allows future recall of headlines or throwaway items.
So the content that gets shared the most on social media is short, snappy, and has a snappy headline. Unlike this article. Long reads are definitely out of fashion.
So content these days is designed to search and sharing friendly, and headlines will describe what’s in the article by using a snappy or catchy phrase. This way, when people are looking for more information on a given topic, they’ll think of that one helpful article they read a while ago and Google the topic to find it again.
Hopefully now you’ll be a little bit better equipped to withstand the many ways that retailers try to extract your money from you over the next 4 weeks.
If you want the very best bargains this year then check out our 2020 preorder or Grade A ex demo 2019 boards. There’s a reason why so many instructors and outdoor professionals from the MOD to the Princes Trust use McConks kit – reliability, robustness and price!