Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tricky Marketing

There is a particular type of advertising that tricks me almost every time. The general idea is as follows:

Buy 1 at the regular price and get a second one at

50% OFF!

I’m getting better at spotting this but invariably I see the “50% off” part and don’t notice the fine print right away. An equivalent way of saying this is that you’re getting 25% off but you have to buy two items. This doesn’t sounds as good, though.

The few times that I didn’t figure out that I wasn’t really getting 50% off before attempting to pay, I was left with a bad feeling about the whole transaction. Do businesses really get much benefit from this trickery if it leaves customers annoyed and feeling a little foolish?


  1. Yes.

    1) To avoid 'looking' as foolish as they feel, some will complete the transaction.

    The smarter ones will subsequently return the merchandise.

    2) If you come into the store, you may buy something else.

    This garbage works.

  2. It's also a well known business model to have big sales every other weekend. The sale price could be the actual "normal price", but psychologically it just looks so nice to see a $40 pair of jeans when they are "normally" $80.

    They probably laugh when people buy those jeans on "non sale" weekends.

    The sales associates even tell you to come back the next weekend with your receipt to get credited for the difference.

    It's so blatant, but it works.