This is the first installment in my Smarter Shopping series, unlocking the consumer science behind the ways companies try to part you with your money! Today we’re talking about Seasonality and how companies use it to motivate us to purchase.
I’ve posted the introduction below, and if you’re interested in reading further, please click the link at the bottom to take you to the full text on Medium.
How many times have you heard?
“[Insert holiday] is a commercial scam invented by corporations to get you to spend money.”
sighed deeply and rolled your eyes at how obnoxious the speaker was? Oh that many? Well, turns out that super annoying hipster grinch was right! If you’re the grinch in question, don’t pat yourself on the back just yet, it isn’t some big scammy conspiracy, it’s just science. Consumer Science.
Not convinced? Well it helps if we think of the bulk of occasion shopping as belonging to two types of Seasons, Natural and Institutional (Butler, 2001).
Natural Seasonality occurs due to climate events that are largely out of human control. While we can prepare and anticipate we can do little to make them happen or not happen. During colder months, we buy thicker jackets and strong boots, during the warmer months we start to buy sunglasses and sunscreen (seriously, everyone should be wearing sunscreen). These purchases are motivated by natural seasonality out of our immediate control.
Institutional Seasonality is completely different in that humanity has direct control over it as it’s comprised of religious, ethnic and social events that each country celebrates in its own way. For example, depending on where you are in Europe, you open Christmas presents on the 24th or the 25th of December! As it is an entirely human construct, Institutional Seasonality is said to be more powerful tool for influencing consumer behaviour because we make it up! How many ‘silly’ holidays have you engaged with in some way? National Talk Like a Pirate Day! Cheese Day! National Cookie Day! Now think of how many have influenced your purchasing habits?
Three ways companies get you to spend money using seasonality are:
- Making it easy for you to spend money you want to spend.
- Reminding you that giving gifts to people makes you a nice person.
- Making you feel like the time to spend is now.
Curious to find out how?