Experts have warned South African consumers to pay attention to Black Friday deals to avoid falling prey to clever advertising gimmicks that retailers are offering.

Thousands of South Africans have flooded shopping malls and supermarkets with the aim of getting a slice of the Black Friday pie.

However, experts say many deals that retailers are offering have been strategically packaged using intelligent marketing techniques to fool unsuspecting consumers out to save a quick buck.

South African Savings Institute CEO, Gerald Mwandiambira says it’s crucial for shoppers to recognise the difference between a good deal and one that has been packaged to manipulate them into buying items they don’t need.

“My advice for most South Africans is to be cautious. A lot of retailers are taking advantage of this opportunity to push their sales, but in many instances, I have seen reports where retailers are pretending as though prices are reduced.,” says Mwandiambira.

Mwandiambira says at times, items that appear marked down may not be marked down and one can see this if they have been tracking the price.

“So be careful. If you have not budgeted for Black Friday, I would say sit it out,” adds Mwandiambira.

A discussion on spending habits during Black Friday:

Marketing strategies in full-swing 

Black Friday has now turned into a weekend filled with hysteria and a flurry of activity at malls across the country. Some larger retails have even offered month-long deals, claiming to save consumers thousands.

Managing Director of digital transformation company Black Box Theory, Yavi Mudurai warns consumers to be on the lookout for deals that sound far more incredible than they actually are. She says the marketing techniques used by retailers to hype the fanfare around Black Friday, luring unsuspecting consumers.

“Marketing on any given day is about creating awareness and showcasing products and services. There’s also that thing in the marketing world called need creation – when you didn’t know you needed it but the moment you saw the advert, you now need it. Everything gets hyped to another level. It’s like advertising on steroids. Fonts are glowing all of a sudden, everything is that much brighter. In the US, it’s like 70, 80 and 90% discounts, not 5%. So, we have adopted the culture but not delivered on the value,” says Mudurai.

Role of social media in advertising

Technology and social media have played an integral role in assisting retailers to boost their sales and grow the excitement around Black Friday. Ever wondered why a simple Google search results in a flood of advertisements for the same product on your social media feed? Madurai says these are algorithms that have been designed to target the specific needs of consumers resulting in increasing one’s purchasing power.

“Algorithms are constantly trying to determine what your needs are without you speaking about it. Engagement is the holy grail of social media. The whole idea behind the advertising is, they want you to post about it, click like because that sharing and commenting is where engagement kicks in. The moment they create an ad on Instagram, they will ask you, where do you live, what is your age group? So you are being targeted. Take this and impose it on a Black Friday scenario, you are getting a whole lot of advertising.”

With advertisements flooding your mobile device, on SMS, Facebook and even email – it would take a lot of discipline and self-control to resist staying away from Black Friday mayhem.