If you’re like us, every year you tell yourself that you won’t get sucked into the hustle and bustle of Black Friday because there’s nothing that you need, the sales aren’t even that good, and you’ll deal with present shopping later on a less-busy day. Then lo and behold you spot that one thing you’ve been wanting and it’s at an unbeatable price and before you know it you’re going to bed on Thanksgiving night full of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and your alarm clock is set for 4 AM sharp so you can be there when the doors open. We get it. There is, in fact, an entire psychology to it. Let’s take a look.
FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a very real thing and that paired with the urgency and exclusivity created by retailers make Black Friday. These sales are often also marketed as “time-sensitive” which makes consumers more apt to take the gamble rather than search for a better deal somewhere else.
Everybody loves a good sale and retailers are extremely aware of this. Consumer research tells us that buying something on sale is satisfying whether a person actually needs the item or not. Sales happen all year round and prices are nearly constantly fluctuating, but by marketing these, in all reality, not so great deal as something great, they’re more likely to draw customers in.
And speaking of time-sensitive sales they actually do some stuff to our brains. Like releasing dopamine which gives us a rush as we “score deals”. And naturally, we want to keep releasing dopamine because it feels good so we continue to do the things we know will do that, such as shopping and buying things that are on sale. Have you spotted the vicious cycle yet?
Something else we can blame as we’re driving in the cold, pitch-black for a new Air Fryer? Our families. Studies have shown that more and more consumers actually use Black Friday as an excuse to get away from their families after spending all of Thanksgiving with them. And frankly, that checks out.
As is the case with so many things in this life, Black Friday shoppers are positively fueled by competition. There is just something in some of us that make us have to have the thing only so other people can’t buy that same thing for the same price.
We’ll leave you with perhaps the most interesting reason we all fall for Black Friday shopping, and that reason is that it satisfies the Darwinian grab/pluck arm flexion. All this means is that the motion of taking something off of the shelf to purchase it makes us feel like we’re getting rewarded somehow. We can thank our ancestors for this because they experienced the same sensation when they reached for and plucked fruits and vegetables, especially when there was an abundance to pick from.