I liked them. The first couple of times I saw them anyway. And I thought the company’s new philosophy of getting rid of all the goofy sales and just offering low, low prices all the time sounded like a good idea. Less confusing. More honest.
Guess what? It has failed miserably. Apparently, you and I like the runaround caused by the 4-hour sale beginning at 6am, an additional 25% off sale prices on all women’s wear only, and 10% off all blue items on odd days when it’s over 70 degrees outside.
I guess it makes us feel like we’re really getting a good deal. When something isn’t labeled as special, well, we’re just not as motivated to buy. Chalk this up to decades of, well, good advertising. (We’ve succeeded in brainwashing ourselves!)
According to a paper published by Xavier Gabaix, a behaviorial economist, consumers prefer shrouding or price tags that don’t tell the whole truth. Here are some examples:
- Computer printers – priced very cheaply yet how much does the ink cost? There’s no standard unit for ink and each printer uses up ink differently so there’s no clear way to compare and determine the actual cost of purchasing and using a printer.
- Hotel rooms – advertised at one rate but it never includes, the local tax, resort fees, tourist taxes, etc…
- Your cable bill – enough said.
- Your cell phone bill – ditto.
Shrouded price tags are becoming more and more common. And apparently consumers like the game. After all, most people still buy a car after haggling over the price with a salesmen. It’s just the accepted way to do business.
So how can we change things and more importantly, do we need to?
Credit unions almost always define themselves as the FIs that have no hidden fees and lower rates. But maybe it would be wise to keep your mortgage rates a bit higher and promote them with a .25% discount because it’s Tuesday, or receive a $100 gas card when you sign up for an auto loan this month. Maybe that’s really the kind of deals your members prefer. Is it possible that they like thinking they’ve gotten a limited-time good deal rather than just knowing that you always offer great rates?
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