Expert offers insights and tips on how consumers can take control of their customer experience and bag the best deals this Black Friday. Photo: Markéta Machová/Pixabay

CAPE TOWN – FOMO, the fear of missing out, is a real phenomenon and has proven to be a rather effective tool for retailers during the shopping season. 

Black Friday fever has thousands of shoppers flooding to shopping malls across the city to take advantage of massive price cuts. When shoppers feel as if they could miss out on something amazing, like a Black Friday deal, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Psychologist and managing director of market research company Ask Afrika Sarina de Beer – on CapeTalk in 2016 – explained what made people go shopping for things they did not need on Black Friday.

De Beer said: “As consumers, we sometimes make irrational decisions that make us buy things we don’t need and that we will probably never use. Sometimes when we see people grabbing things, we think we are going to lose out and we start acting in the same way, wanting to get our hands on it.”

Nathalie Schooling, the chief executive of customer experience specialists nlighten, advises consumers to think of Black Friday as “planned” impulse buying and warns against being sucked into the shiniest deals or fanciest advertising. 

“It’s easy to get swept up in the buzz. All the bargain hunting might feel great at the time, but it can quickly translate to buyer’s remorse once purchases are out of their packaging.  Being prepared, keeping your options open, and having a handle on T&C’s and return policies can help with a smooth customer journey,” says Schooling.

The first Monday in December is reportedly the peak day for retailers to handle Black Friday returns, as buyer’s remorse sets in. Reports show that returns on this day can be 79 percent higher than any other random Monday in the year.

According to Schooling, consumers are prepared to spend big on Black Friday. For many, it marks the start of their Christmas shopping. For others, they have been deliberately putting off upgrading or replacing items like electronics or appliances so they can grab a Black Friday bargain.

“The pressure to ‘snap it up’ and the increased sense of urgency and FOMO means consumers purse strings may well and truly be wide open, despite intentions to save money and get the best deals. On the day, consumers are prepared to hit ‘buy’ on a deal for big-ticket purchases without their usual consideration and careful comparison,” says Schooling.

Below Schooling offers insights and tips on how consumers can take control of their customer experience and bag the best deals this Black Friday.

1. Set a budget and stick to it

As with all aspects of financial management, self-control and discipline are paramount. If you have a spending limit, stick to it no matter how tempting the next storefront appears or how enticing the deals are that pop up once you’ve already spent your budget. Ask yourself - can I afford it? If I can afford it, do I really need/want it? What else could I spend this money on if I don’t buy this?

2. Do your research

Many retailers offer Black Friday bait long before the day, giving you sneak peeks of the products or packages that may be on offer, sometimes releasing deals ahead of time. Make sure you have an idea of the brands and products you are interested in before the big day. A lack of focus can lead to confusion and temptation.

3. Have a wish list, and be flexible

Think about the items you really need or have coveted for a long time and prepare a wish list ahead of the day. This way if you come across an attractive deal, you have already considered your buying decision ahead of time. Give thought to how much you would like to pay and what you would be willing to pay, which features are must-haves and which you could live without.

4. Be Safe

Within the frenzy of Black Friday, there are opportunists and fraudsters who know consumers have their guards down and are perhaps not applying the same due diligence to their purchases or their safety (whether online or in-store). Pickpockets will be out in force, attracted by the crowds, the shopping bags filled with goodies and the bulging wallets. Online, scammers will be vying for your money alongside genuine retailers. Be vigilant and check security certificates.

Even with the best intentions, it’s easy to get carried away on Black Friday, but with a little mindfulness and forward planning, you can bag both a bargain and a meaningful customer experience.

BUSINESS REPORT