How to avoid FOMO and overspending during Black Friday sales


A few years ago, few people had heard of Black Friday in Australia. These days, it’s one of the biggest business events of the year.

In fact, Australians are expected to spend over $5 billion during the four-day Black Friday and Cyber ​​​​Monday sales period from November 26-29.

While there are great deals available, it’s important to be on the lookout for strategies used to part with your money.

“Now is a really good time for retailers to get people to open their wallets and spend their money,” says Jana Bowden, a marketing professor at Macquarie University.

“With Black Friday, many of the deals on offer are shady. And it’s very easy for consumers to be duped by big-ticket items and fall into the trap of overspending.”

With that in mind, here are some common Black Friday sales tactics to keep in mind.

How retailers create FOMO on Black Friday

Have you ever shopped online and seen a notification that other people are viewing the same item? Or that there is “limited stock” left?

“These tactics are designed to create FOMO [fear of missing out] and a sense of false demand,” says Professor Bowden.

During Black Friday events, retailers will use a range of these tactics to create a sense of urgency and close sales.

Retailers will stress the need to shop early for Christmas and promote products as “limited stock” or special offers that will expire, says Louise Grimmer, senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Tasmania.

“This is really designed to get consumers excited about the sales and spending more than they might have expected,” she says.

It’s important to remember that many items sold on Black Friday will be on sale at other times of the year, and often they may even be cheaper.

When a group of UK consumers looked at the price history of items sold during the 2019 Black Friday sales, they found that 85% of items were available at the same price or cheaper over the previous six months.

“In other words, consumers really have to reverse engineer and research the product they’re interested in,” says Professor Bowden.

Tips for smart shopping on Black Friday

  • Plan your purchases in advance — Dr. Grimmer suggests listing the specific items or products you want to purchase and setting a budget.
  • Prepare to be bombarded with advertisements – Remember that almost all retailers will send you deals and offers via email before Black Friday.
  • Check prices using price tracking websites — Sites like CamelCamelCamel, MyShopping, GetPrice, Shopbot, and OzBargain can help you figure out if you’re really getting a good deal. Keep in mind that these sites receive commissions for referring traffic to retailers.
  • Breathe before you buy — It can be helpful to pause and wait a few hours before committing to a purchase, says Dr. Grimmer. It’s a tactic to help you avoid buying things you don’t really need. Keep in mind that many Black Friday deals have time limits.
  • Be careful when using buy now, pay later (BNPL) options — While BNPL services can be helpful in smoothing your budget, they can also cause you to spend more than you would otherwise. “You don’t have to worry about it immediately and it causes you to spend more,” says Professor Bowden.

Why discounts aren’t always discounts

During sales events like Black Friday, retailers often release products at deep discounts.

These claims can be misleading as the discount is often applied to the recommended retail price (RRP).

Discounts don’t always mean cheap, says Professor Jana Bowden.(Provided: Macquarie University)

“We call this an anchor price. Consumers need to determine whether the anchor price is the original RRP price,” says Professor Bowden.

Professor Bowden suggests looking for past sale prices to use as a point of comparison rather than focusing on so-called markdowns.

“We know that most retailers don’t sell their products at recommended retail prices. We know that most products are purchased on sale. So comparing a retail price to a recommended retail price isn’t always a good idea. good deal,” she said.

Another retail tactic is to sell certain products at very low prices to attract customers.

The idea is that these items – which the retailer can even sell at a loss – attract customers who stick around and buy other, more profitable products.

“The other thing is getting sucked in by emails that say there’s a huge sale on a category of items, but you might find that only five brands are included,” Prof Bowden says.

“The danger with this is that you might end up with something else.”

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