South African consumers have been warned to pay close attention to Black Friday deals and avoid falling prey to clever advertising gimmicks offered by retailers. Thousands of South Africans are likely to flood shopping malls and supermarkets from Thursday, aiming to get a slice of the Black Friday pie.

However, as experts warn, many deals being offered by retailers have been strategically packaged using intelligent marketing techniques to fool unsuspecting consumers, out to save a quick buck.

It is a shopping frenzy that has seen many South Africans buy into the idea that they may actually be saving money.

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 look for deals that sound far more incredible than they actually are. She explains 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.”

Role of social media in advertising

Technology and social media has played an integral role in assisting retailers 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 hence increasing in your 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.

‘Do not shop if you have not saved up’

Chief Executive Officer of the South African Savings Institute Gerald Mwandiambia says to avoid being penniless post Black Friday, it is crucial for shoppers to recognise an actual good deal from one that has been packaged to manipulate you into buying items you do not 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. So, sometimes that markdown that you see is not an actual markdown unless you have been tracking the price. So, be careful of chasing markdowns that might be psychological gimmicks. If you have not budgeted for Black Friday – I would say sit it out.”

A discussion on spending habits during Black Friday:

As you count your cash and prepare to hit the supermarkets on Black Friday weekend, experts are urging you to avoid incurring debt for items you do not need.

With a new variant of COVID-19 now being detected in South Africa, you are being advised to rather shop online to avoid Black Friday being a super spreader event.