Don’t the rich, the famous and the wannabes live and make most of their purchasing decisions everyday and weekend of the year the same way the poor and middle-class of our generation do during the Christmas season?
In my home village in Tororo, it is the only time of the year when every family is sure of a meal with meat, rice, and Matooke in the menu.
It is the only time when every wife is sure of a new Gomesi, and child sure of a nice smelling attire.
It is only on Christmas day that almost all kids get to go out to the trading centres to watch any movie that’s showing or dance to any songs that are playing with barely a complaint if any (and pay with a smile).
Back in Kampala, it is the period for the least earners among us to travel 200 kilometers and beyond at double the normal fare, and not curse the government for it.
Much aware that many people will wait for Christmas to do these things simply because of resource constraints, I took a little time to outline a few things that marketers and business developers and whoever may wish to sell a thing or two in the future can take home.
This is because if, and I repeat, if at any time one of these many people from the crowd gets through the resource constraints, they will start to have many more Christmas-ses throughout the year.
1. They buy what they want, not what they need
Though this might sound like reverse psychology, it is just another simple fact.
In the customer’s mind, it is always a good sense of how they want to feel when they have something they desire and this is what drives them to go for the wallet or log-in to pay for a product or service.
There are even cases where people buy things simply because everyone is buying similar things, and not because they need those particular items.
This is the time for such behavior; Meat, Matooke, Chicken, new clothing are not what an obese adult, a child who left school with pending tuition balances or a woman or man with several debts needs to buy or have but what can they do? They can’t stand the FOMO – fear of missing out!
During Christmas, we all act like we do not have financial constraints.
To sell to customers especially ones who do not have major financial constraints, we ought to be aware of just what the customer wants and we provide exactly that.
2. Customers know what they want
The determined and often unconstrained customer knows when he or she wants to buy and cannot be easily stopped.
People (especially men) even go to supermarkets without any shopping list or wishlist in mind only to start moving around and picking whatever pleases their eyes.
Needless to say that before walking into a shop a buyer might not know the colour of dress or Christmas gift that is in stock, what the customer knows and should be trusted about, is the fact that they know what they want.
You can always help someone make a choice but no matter how much advertising or discounts were offered one month ago, only a handful of buyers could make the kind of purchases they are making today.
Now they know they HAVE to buy and are unstoppable. They are even borrowing on they can buy a thing or two and do not care whether the discounts are high, low or missing altogether.
3. Customers care about price
Some people are not price-sensitive, they say, but, who wants to pay more yet there is a possibility of getting the same for less, you?
Well, there’s still something more frightening; price affects the customer’s perception of a product, service or brand as a whole.
In fact, when financial constraints have been lifted, most people will swear not to buy low-cost food or phone or other electronics.
If they are still having financial constraints, they might take, but they would not feel as good as they wished.
During Christmas, everybody wants to be the best they can ever be.
It does not matter whether one is a peasant, factory worker, jobless or top corporate; one will at least take an offertory to church or graduate to bottled beer from ‘sachet-waragi’.
We can still sell at low prices and offer discounts so long as our price does not make our product, service or brand appear to be offering less value than our prospect may want to associate with (during this time of the year).
4. Quality is a myth
Who doesn’t know that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder? You?
Well, just like beauty is, real quality lies in the perception of the buyer!
Traditional general indicators of quality such as durability do stand, but what matters most in making the sale is the customer’s perception of quality.
Some people understand high quality as high cost (expensive) and low quality as cheap, high quality as rare and low quality as common.
In the Christmas buys, most customers rely on their own definitions even more.
They might ask friends and family or check different online stores for or advertising platforms for recommendations and information but at the end of the day what they get out of all of that or rather how that information makes them understand or rate the products against standards that the seller may not even be aware of is what makes the most sense.
In a nutshell, as there is not a general rule to control how ALL consumers behave, no single point or factor can help to precisely tell what will drive all customers but the above are some of what drive the majority, especially those that are not broke.
Stephen Obeli is a co-founder at dreamstar digital, the first inbound digital marketing and sales agency in Uganda