Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Disappearing discounts

People hate missing out on a deal, and seeing that deal vanish before your eyes makes it seem even worse. MyProtein, an online sports brand, has frequent sales on many products, some offering random discounts, others discounts that reduce over time. Those offering reducing discounts follow the idea of a flash sale, but with diminishing value rather than a sudden cut off, making people feel like they in the process of missing out on a massive bargain, prompting them into making a purchase. Time-limited deals increase sales (Aggarwal & Vaidyanathan, 2003), but how do disappearing promotions effect sales?

The limited time of the offer promotes a form of scarcity, limited by time not by availability (Inman, Peter & Raghubir, 1997). This spurs people into making purchases, believing they are at greater risk of missing out. This alternative version of the flash sale allows people to actually see the discount vanishing before them, potentially accentuating this effect. There is a panic induced by feeling like there is scarcity (Pratkanis, 2011), that you will miss out on something that is limited by time in this case rather than availability. This perceived perishability of the items lower value, completely devised by the company and not based on any real expiration date, also increases impulse purchases (Byun & Sternquist, 2012).)

 Loss aversion could also be influencing the reaction of people to this advert. If you can see that you are going to miss out on a deal, you value it higher, you class the loss of the lower price at a greater value than the savings you are actually making, and feel like this missed opportunity would be a genuine loss to yourself. The gains of buying the product, supported by the theoretical loss of not buying it, are powerful in influencing buying behaviour (Byun & Sternquist, 2012). Even if you don’t want the products on sale, a feeling that you are missing out on getting a discounted price, where if you were to make the purchase in the future at full price would seem a loss, and more risky than making the purchase now.

Aggarwal, P., & Vaidyanathan, R. (2003). Use it or lose it: purchase acceleration effects of timelimited promotions. Journal of Consumer Behaviour2(4), 393-403.

Byun, S. E., & Sternquist, B. (2012). Here today, gone tomorrow: Consumer reactions to perceived limited availability. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice20(2), 223-234.

Inman, J. J., Peter, A. C., & Raghubir, P. (1997). Framing the deal: The role of restrictions in accentuating deal value. Journal of Consumer Research24(1), 68-79.

Pratkanis, A. R. (Ed.). (2011). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Psychology Press.

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