Marketing researchers have a better idea of what is going on inside the heads of shoppers than the shoppers do themselves.
And Black Friday is a day when these scientific techniques are finely honed and applied.
The latest technique is called neuromarketing, which is a study of the brain processes that influence the buying decision.
Hellen Badilla is a specialist in this field at Tecnológico de Costa Rica, the Cartago-based public university. She characterized the big annual shopping day as the brain considering purchases as a reward, according to a summary for the university. Such activities activate the pleasure centers in the brain, she said in a university release.
There also is the aspect of surprise as the shoppers unexpectedly find low prices.
Marketing research has come a long way since World War II when the supermarket managers were told to put the milk as far away from the front door as possible so shoppers would have to traverse the aisles laden with other goods.
Now there are devices that can show researchers exactly what is taking place in the brain.
Professor Badilla contends that only 15 percent of purchasing decisions are rational.
Her work dovetails with the concept of the sport shopper. This is a term coined by professors at San Francisco State.
“This is somebody who takes great pride in their ability to get the thing they want at a discount,” Kathleen O’Donnell said.
“It’s not about spending the least. It’s about saving the most.” She is associate dean of the business school there.
She and colleagues are publishing an academic article titled “The thrill of victory: women and sport shopping,”
The sport shopper is someone who often can afford the items she buys at full price but who bargain hunts for the thrill of it, and she is competitive and enjoys outsmarting the retail system, according to the article.
Professor O’Donnell contends the sport shopper is different from the bargain shopper in that the bargain shopper hunts for deals out of necessity, while the sport shopper does it for the rush of finding a good deal.