November 20, 2018

This Black Friday, choose your bargains better.

Data science and behavioral science can show us the road to the best bargains this Friday. But it’s still the road less travelled.

Written by
Guy Champniss

Black Friday is upon us. And once again, marketers are telling us there’s a sea of bargains out there, just waiting for us savvy consumers to step in and snap up the offers.

As savvy consumers, we know a bargain when we see one, don’t we? Don’t we..?

Before we hit Buy Now, let’s think about that.

If we’re really savvy, then we’d know that the price we pay for a new refrigerator, tv or washer is only a fraction of what we’re going to end-up paying; running costs will add up to a hefty chunk of change over the lifetime of ownership. And we know that the major contributor to running costs is the amount of energy that new product will use, once it’s unboxed and plugged into our home.

Savvy Consumer Warning #1

If we get swept up in the excitement of buying on Black Friday, there’s good evidence to suggest we may forget about that longer-term cost in relation to energy consumption. In trials we’ve run at Enervee, we know that we as consumers tend to overly discount future savings and largely ignore efficiency when in the ‘heat of the (shopping) moment’ (Asia was right, all the way back in 1982). In our studies, we found purchase choices were significantly less efficient when the purchase was happening in a rush, or under pressure.

This doesn’t look good for savvy Black Friday shopping. We likely swat away efficiency as a useful product characteristic when under pressure to snag a bargain. That’s really not good news for our wallets, after Black Friday. What we think are stunning bargains today could quickly turn into turkeys for the rest of the time we own them.

Savvy Consumer Warning #2

As if that’s not bad enough, there’s a second mental bear-trap just waiting to spring its jaws on our Black Friday cognitive compromises. Even if we did want to aim high in terms of efficiency (but well done for not letting go), doesn’t this mean we have to spend more to buy the new product or appliance? And doesn’t this destroy the whole point of shopping on Black Friday? Paying more on the very day everyone else is paying less??

Well, as an aside, it turns out most people needlessly pay more to grab that bargain on Black Friday, in that the same products have normally been for sale for less earlier in the year (smartphones were cheaper this year on August 5th, according to research).

But back to paying for efficiency. If you’re convinced energy efficiency costs more in terms of purchase price, then you’re far from being alone. In other studies Enervee has run, we’ve seen shoppers consistently think the more efficient the product, the more expensive it is. And the effect is even seen in the opposite direction — the more expensive the product, the more efficient it’s believed to be. This belief that ‘efficiency costs’ more is called a consumer lay theory. And it looks like it’s a very well-established lay theory, as people tend to hold it.

Photo
$8 sprout, anyone? Source: Google images

Consumer lay theories are everywhere, and have the potential to fundamentally change how we think about certain products and their associated costs. A vivid example of a consumer lay theory is that healthy food costs us more.

And while many lay theories linger and hold for good reason, there are also cases where they really should be banished. Because they’re wrong. The ‘efficiency costs’ lay theory is one of these — higher efficiency doesn’t mean you have to shell-out more to begin with. Not at all.

Let’s say that again. You do not have to pay more to buy more efficient.

Efficiency. Does. Not. Need. To. Cost. More.

So you can get a great product, at a great price, and that will deliver you great energy (and bill) savings in the years to come. You just need to know where to look, and what to look for.

Show me the (saved) money

One of the main reasons rogue lay theories stay in use is because we as consumers have no way to see through them. We continue to use them, because we’ve no concrete way to work out they’re wrong. This is particularly the case with efficiency — while ENERGY STAR can point us towards a more efficient purchase, it can’t help you choose the most efficient product to meet your needs. Nor can it tell us what that efficiency actually means for us in terms of life-time costs and savings. Energy efficiency has remained an invisible individual product feature for everyone, up until now.

Enervee Marketplace shows you how each product in a category stacks up, in terms of efficiency and price, and allows you to get an accurate, personalised prediction of running costs. Enervee does this in two ways. First, there’s the Enervee Score — a 0–100 scoring system for every product in a category, with the most efficient products scoring 100. And second, there’s Enervee’s Energy Saving Calculator, which allows us as shoppers to quickly get an accurate and personalized view of what we’re going to pay overall (‘TRUECOST’), and what we can save through buying efficient (‘YOUSAVE’).

This is a whole new level of savvy, whether it’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Auntie Diane’s birthday.

To hammer home the points of how important it is to understand product-specific efficiency for possible savings, and to fully grasp that efficiency doesn’t have to cost more, take a look at these two charts.

Chart
Chart 1. Variations of energy consumption for TVs in the US today. Source: Enervee

Take the example of TVs (Chart 1). We can see that if we were in the market to buy a new 50" TV this Black Friday, the energy consumption of the most efficient option is around 50kWh/y. Compare this to the least efficient, which would consume more than 4X this, at 220kWh/y.

Chart
Chart 2. Variations in energy consumption at any given price point today. Source: Enervee

And before that efficiency costs lay theory kicks-in, this second chart (Chart 2) shows that at any given price point (we focused this view on TVs under $1000), there’s a 3X to 4X range in annual energy consumption. Put another way, if we wanted to spend around $500 on a new TV this Black Friday, we could buy one that was 4X more efficient without spending an additional cent to lock-on those savings for the rest of the TV’s lifetime.

Only Enervee can create these charts. Why? Because only Enervee has this level of information on a product level. We work tirelessly to produce this, so you can effortlessly exercise Olympic-standard savvy, without even breaking into a sweat.

Time to turbocharge your savvy

If you really want to make sure you snag a genuine bargain this Black Friday, remember to look beyond the sticker price, and grasp how efficiency could reveal the real bargain.

We know there are plenty of super-efficient options hidden amongst all the offers in every product category. And now you should too. Enervee Marketplace makes it simple to find what’s really right for you. Enervee Marketplace makes it simple to be savvy. Which means those Black Friday savings will roll on into even more savings next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…you get the point. If course you do. Because you’re a savvy consumer.

Happy saving this Black Friday. And happy saving, after this Black Friday.

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