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Why people are happy to pay too much for things, as long as they get a discount


All of my life I've been fascinated with Marketing, and Advertising. I'm a Graphic Designer, so my job has mostly been to make ads and promotions that have a visual appeal. That is, I don't write, I don't do Marketing Research, I don't do advertising. But I certainly have been around a lot of it, and most of of it is wonderful, honest, and above-board, such as the work I did for such reputable companies as Blue Cross of California, Bank One of Arizona, and the Art Institute of Phoenix. I specialize in what is know as "image advertising", or soft sell. And for a reputable company, it just means presenting, through advertising and promotion, the same integrity that the company has in its operation. Yes, there are good people doing Marketing and Advertising, promoting things that people want to buy, that are a good value, that help the economy, and keep people working. On the other hand, there are some nasty tricks out there in the world of Marketing and Advertising. And one of them is the way that discounts are used to over-charge.

This isn't to say that discount is always bad, or that a company can't offer a bargain price if it chooses to. The difference is that the discount, and the bargain, should be an actual one. And, unfortunately, human nature being what is, most people really don't know what something should cost. That requires research, and most people aren't interested in doing that. Instead, they fall for a false discount.

If you're still with me at this point, that's a good sign. If you took a look at this post and said TLDR (too long, didn't read) or if you faded away after the first couple of sentences, then you're the type of person who can be cheated with a false discount. On the other hand, people who are willing to "do their homework" on the price of things can't possibly be cheated, regardless of the phony statements that might be thrown at them.

I've often talked to people who are pleased to find that they saved 10%, or 50%, on a recent purchase. If I ask "what does the product usually sell for?", I rarely get an answer. And that's how it works. There's no point in getting a discount on something for which you have no idea of what a fair price is.

Discounts are so appealing that it doesn't even have to be 10% anymore (which is actually a fairly small discount). Most of the Loyalty Cards offer a 1% discount, if you do the math. But most people have no interest in doing the math. They see illusion of savings, and that's good enough.

So, people are happily over-paying for things, because they get a discount. But it's a discount of a random price, that usually has no reference point. And this not only cheats consumers, it cheats honest companies that don't do this type of marketing. So, don't get cheated, don't overpay. Don't fall for false discounts - do you your homework, find out what things cost, and let that be your guide to a fair price.

Thanks for staying with me on this. We won't let the bad guys win!