We are all smart entrepreneurs, and at the same time we are consumers. So, one of our biggest concerns, whenever we get close to making a buying decision, is whether or not we are getting real value for our money. Or is it that we are being taken advantage of, or “suckered” in some way?
There is so much hype these days, in TV ads, and especially online, that it can be hard to drown out all the noise and make a smart purchase. It is easy to get dazzled in stores, and buy what we think to be bargains, only to end up spending far more than we have to.
The Truth about “Sales”
Most vendors have a significant mark-up on the products they sell, so a sale is merely bringing down the price to something closer to its actual value. In some cases, retailers will also create “loss leaders”, items designed to lure people into the store in the hope they will buy more.
Sales tend to trigger impulse purchases, very often bad ones. You spot things you like as you are walking through the aisles, looking for the sales items. You might also grab things at the checkout, and boost your purchase even more.
The stores are arranged in such a way as to stimulate impulse buying, with end of aisle displays, snack bins, and more. You can understand how dazzling this can be if you are ever in the supermarket with a child, who will often go crazy as soon as they enter the store, and want to grab everything in sight.
Therefore, while sales and sale displays can be attractive, and distracting, they are also an easy way to get suckered into making bad financial decisions.
The Truth about Coupons
Coupons may seem like a great way to save money, but the truth is that they will only offer good value if you normally buy the product, and its original price is comparable to that of similar products. But in a lot of cases you might be better off buying the store brand.
Coupons are offered to try to get you to buy a product in the hope you will like it, and become loyal to the brand. But in many cases they are over-priced convenience foods, and junk foods, like chips and dips. Pound for pound, therefore, you are getting little value, or nutrition.
Special Sales Online
Amazon and other large online retailers offer sales for the same reason. And with shopping software being so sophisticated now, it is easy for them to track your purchasing behavior, and try to get you to buy more. They all have various strategies for trying to increase the dollar value of each purchase made. For example, Amazon will sell a popular item cheaply, but sell the needed accessories for more than their competition.
They will also bundle offers, that is, combine one or more items. They look like bargains, but the original prices might not be competitive in the first place. Comparison shopping can save money, but many stores are banking on people not having the time to find the best deals, or to do the necessary research.
Consumer Reports are good guides to use for review of products, especially high ticket items. They do cost money, but can be an very good investment, that will pay for itself, if it helps you make smarter shopping decisions, based on logic rather than impulse.
What is the Bottom line? If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your due diligence and research. If you have any unanswered questions, find the answers before hitting the Buy button. Go with your gut instinct. Know the tricks of the trade, when it comes to “sales” and you should be able to make smart purchases without getting suckered.