Shopping: A test of the distance between your Brain and your Heart

So much poetry exists about the heart and its righteousness over the brain.

But no, this is not a psychological deduction of your life. Nor is it a sequential detangling of your love life.

Rather it is a take on maintaining this distance without letting shopper psychology interfere.

Recalling a strategic view on shopper psychology versus retailer strategy, I found that shopper psychology in particular takes the toll at this time of year. After Thanksgiving commences holiday shopping season, but unlike a car that slowly accelerates along to reach a cruise controlled racing speed, shopping commences with a roller-coaster drop akin to a deadly game park ride.

Behold Black Friday.

Called so because this is the day we make the profit and loss statement of a retailer move from red to black. (Negative to positive, for anti accounting and Excel peeps).

Black Friday hits shoppers like a jolt, and just like your stomach coming to your throat on a roller coaster, your brain and heart begin to bounce into each other.

While retailers will try anything to incentivize, they make shopping seem like urgency. Even Chelsea Property Group have begun advertising Black Friday to tour operators, swallowing the world into a Western dream of shopaholic bliss.

And this is when shopper psychology interferes.

The key is to try to separate your needs from your wants. Separating “must-haves” from “nice-to-haves” is a tactic that not only caters to tactful business decisions, but also to shopping… and believes it or not, even to dating and finding your soul mate! (Take this: She needs to be able to carry on an intellectual conversation, and it would be nice if she was a Scarlett Johannson lookalike; you pick your priority).

Yet, separating needs and wants can only take you as far as ranking everything into two buckets. What is more necessary is to view the extremes in both cases to assess what emotion each is fulfilling.

Classically, I would hope most people require a product enough to buy it. A requirement is that of high need, but low want. Think utility items. Yet, the pendulum often swings towards crave on Black Friday – a plethora of work has been done on trying to figure out why people stock up on what they don’t need, piling on credit card debt based on exponential wants. These are products that are fads – so fashionably driven from clothing to gadgets to seasonal fru-frus! Retailers tug at our sentiment of love by offering items that we still don’t need, nor do we want. Yet, when we feel its SUCH a good deal, blinded by the % offs and alarming deductions, we fall for it. Be it items those at checkout, or pile-on accessories with electronic purchases, they all seem attractive, and we simply drown in our brain-heart soup and scoop them up. And there is no need to explain desire, for brands like Apple epitomize it. Why oh why do you want and need an iPad when its upstaged me-toos are so much better?

What consumers fail to grasp, especially in turbulent economic times is that high spending will not boost the economy! Salvation is found in building a well-guarded savings account, not an over exposed credit card debt.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the season, and am quite the dude version of the confessions of a shopaholic chic. Fashion and food savvy, yours truly is also a tech freak and gadget hunter.

I too fall for the emotional turmoil year after year. But in hindsight, perhaps SaveThanksgiving.org does have a point: the more you crave and search for deals instead of spending time with family, the more a holiday loses its value. Not to mention, the more people that do so, the lower your bang for the buck. Probability dictates that early openings will lead to fewer scoring customers.

What is your emotional driver to shop?

I definitely sway through all the emotions, and despite words of wisdom, see myself sometimes falling into the crave and desire trap. Though I have learned to avoid the love deals – who wants to sort through a plethora of paraphernalia and clutter, not to mention the guilt that washes up shopping accumulated hysteria upon seeing a credit card statement?

By all means I’m still going to scout the market and pick up quite a few items. And have fun while doing it. Retail therapy works! But I will keep my own words of wisdom in my mind, and share them where needed.

However, remember that your brain is a foot or two above your heart for a reason.

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5 responses to “Shopping: A test of the distance between your Brain and your Heart

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