The Sale Price Is…

In the good old days, if something went on sale, the original price was reduced to the new sale price. Things were clearly posted, and you could easily determine how much something cost. Not so much anymore.

Becoming as rare as a landline phone, percentage discounts are being replaced with buy X get Y free or quantity S for the price of T. The BOGO (buy one get one free) promotions easy enough to understand, it’s essentially half off each item. However, just how much of a discount is buy 2 get 1 free? What is the net cost of each item?

If you think stores are just trying to help us avoid multiplication and fractions to determine prices, think again. They may be giving the same discounts they used to, but they are adjusting your mindset and actually trying to convince you to buy more.

Take BOGO for example, which is the same as a 50% discount. Yet you are now purchasing two items instead of one. If they just offered 50% off, you’d more likely only buy one of those items instead of two. The same goes for the increasingly popular 3 for 2 sales – buy two get the third one free. (That’s a 33-1/3% reduction on each item for the math challenged out there.) But again, you have to buy all 3 items to get the discount – you can’t just buy one item at 1/3 off. What happens if you don’t want or need 3 items? You aren’t allowed to get the savings.

Those 3 for 3, 5 for 5 or 10 for 10 sales may sound enticing – only 1 dollar/euro per item. However, if you’re not careful, you may not get that discount either. Some stores require that you buy the entire quantity to get the sale price. Even if they don’t have it in the fine print that you have to buy the exact quantity, the reason they have it advertised as S for T is to try and get you to buy quantity S, whether you need that many or not. Even if you’re sitting there saying to yourself, “well I don’t fall for that – I only buy as many as I need,” enough people do that they continue to market it that way instead of just saying 1 dollar/euro each.

What if you’re a small household of one or two people? Do you really need 3 of something, which may equate to a year’s supply? Or you may not have enough money that shopping trip to buy two at full price to get the third one free. Then you either don’t buy the item, because it’s not on sale at a single quantity price, or you get penalized and pay the full price for just purchasing one. Is it fair? Of course, not. However marketing has never been about fairness – it’s about getting the customer into your shop and keeping as many of their dollars/euros as you can.

About musingmirror

A writer of many genres, always in search of creative inspiration.
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