The Psychology Behind “Black Friday” Sales

When it comes to Black Friday each year, it is likely you are one of two types of people:

  • You love Black Friday and can’t wait for those doors to open, even if you have to spend days outside waiting for the best deals.
  • You wouldn’t even entertain the thought of going out on Black Friday if you were paid cash money to do so.

So, what exactly is the psychology behind the Black Friday madness, and why do so many people seem to do exactly what these stores want you to do – buy more stuff? We can learn a lot about sales from taking a behind the scenes look.

Of course, all the stores care about is that you’re there, and you’re spending money. They’ll try to do it with price changes, sweepstakes, giveaways…in fact, they’ll do whatever it takes to get you to open up your wallet. Here are just a few of the interesting factors behind all that Black Friday buying.

  1. Everyone loves a good deal. And by offering you prices that you can’t possibly turn down, retailers prey on a consumer’s compulsion to buy – or, the compulsion to not miss out on the deal, even if it’s something they already have, or don’t even need or want. This feeling is akin to the high one might get from drugs, and that’s because the dopamine dump in the brain that is satisfying the compulsion creates exactly the same affect whether it’s heroin or high fashion. 
  1. Total sensory nirvana is what these stores want you to feel. Have you ever wondered why there are always those cinnamon pine cones in bags at the front of your local WalMart or Target during the holiday season? Because as soon as you walk in, you’re met with the scent of the holidays, and our sense of smell is very closely related to emotion. It gets you in that buying mood.
    Think of the music that’s playing in stores…holiday favorites for young and old on repeat from 7AM until closing time. And all of the lights and decor also feed into that good ole holiday spirit – in the hopes that you’ll be buying, buying, buying!
  2. Are you the competitive type? Always trying to out-do the next guy? Well, Black Friday sales have your number, because they try to build on that sense of competition so that you are there and waiting for the best deals, and the lowest prices when the doors open. Get that free giveaway that’s only available to the first hundred customers in the door, or get one of just ten extra-large TV’s that are on sale at a truly ridiculous price.

Black Friday shopping can be a lot of fun when you’re armed with the knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes to get you to buy. By studying these sales tactics, you’ll know exactly what they’re up to, and that will help your own sales prowess as well!

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