Marietta is a perfect example of a bargain hunter. She spends an incredible amount of time haggling for the best deals when choosing hotel rooms, picking up a taxi in the busy streets of Senegal and HR software applications for her small, medium-sized company. Despite her efforts, she doesn’t always get the best deals. She clearly remembers the feeling of shame and embarrassment she felt after her friends taunted her for buying a handbag at a supposedly low price.
Bargaining is an admirable and critical skill for getting the best deals when shopping in Africa. But for Marietta and others like her, a moment comes when haggling for a good deal turns into frustration. If you can relate, here are three ways to avoid frustration and increase your bargain satisfaction.
- Understand the seller’s negotiation identity, values and cultural preferences: Every seller has a personal and cultural identity that emerges from his or her values, personal history, and preferences. These aspects affect how the seller views a bargain situation. For instance, recent research actually points out that Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa sellers of informal markets in Nigeria adopt different price negotiation strategies emerging from their diverse ethnic cultures. Shoppers who take their time to understand the background, history, values and cultural preferences of sellers are more likely to win the seller’s favor during the bargain situation. To help you understand the seller’s values, identity and preferences, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the seller happy to say about his or her history and preferences?
- Which of the sellers core values will affect how he or she thinks about bargaining?
- What is the one thing I can do to help me understand the negotiation style of the seller and where it comes from
- Focus your bargain efforts on scarce and unique products or services: Nothing is more frustrating than spending an inordinate amount of time bargaining for the best deals only to discover that the product or service is readily available in other locations at better prices or conditions. A study I conducted with some colleagues of over 1,000 street shoppers in Lagos, Nigeria actually showed that shoppers actually derive more bargain satisfaction from purchasing scarce and unique products and services. To help you decide whether the product or service is worth bargaining for, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this product or service easily available and accessible in multiple locations?
- Is anything unique about the product or service I am about to buy?
- How likely am I to repeat the purchase of this product or service?After all, it is much easier to make a bargain decision when the answers to these questions are positive than when the buyer has no information.
- Purchase from sellers who value sustainable practices: Everyone knows how Nestle India lost millions of dollars when customers boycotted its noodle brand for allegedly containing an inordinate amount of lead poisoning. Buyers don’t care how much a seller knows about the products or services he or she sells until they know how much the seller cares for the buyers. One way to know whether sellers care for buyers is to observe the sustainable practices of the seller. For instance, does the seller carefully dispose of waste products? Does the seller promote social causes in the immediate community? Does the seller care about the environmental hazards of what is sold to the buyers?
These are critical questions that every buyer should ask before entering a bargain situation with a seller.