The Psychological Cocktail that causes you to buy on Black Friday

I love watching Black Friday videos.

You know the ones I'm talking about.

There are the brawling videos, in which two determined shoppers tackle each other, MMA style, in competition for a Nerf Gun or Xbox.

Then there are the stampede videos, in which hundreds of shoppers run through the doors of a Best Buy or Target, doing whatever it takes to win the race to the nearest deal.

It's incredible to see the lengths to which people will go to get the goodies that they want.

Part of this is due to the economic situation of our time. Times are tough for many many Americans, and they'll take advantage of every money-saving opportunity.

But Black Friday is also a powerful psychological cocktail.

It takes full advantage of 3 behavior-changing forces:

1. It's a social norm

"You don't buy anything on Black Friday? Are you serious?"

So many people shop on Black Friday that you're kind of strange if you *don't*.

In other words: it's a social norm... and we're powerfully influenced by the actions of the herd.

This is particularly true in the areas of our life in which we're most uncertain.

Most of us aren't deal-hunters. Most of us don't keep track of how often the things we want go on sale (and how low the prices go). So when we see millions of people going out and shopping for deals, we assume that there are mind-blowing deals to be had... and so we go out and get that new TV, even if it'll be just as cheap in a month or two.

2. It's a scarcity supernova

You can't take your pretty time on Black Friday. All the sale items sell out quite quickly...

So if there's something that you're interested in you have to buy it up right away.

3. It's triggering

Look at your email from the past week. You probably got 2-3x more promotional emails than you normally do, and all of them were probably about one Black Friday deal or another.

It's impossible to overlook the fact that there are a bunch of TVs, appliances, and games on sale this week.

In the behavior-change world, we call these marketing messages "triggers".

And a behavior only occurs when three elements come together:
1. motivation to do the behavior
2. ability to do the behavior
3. a prompt (trigger) to do the behavior

When one of these elements in missing, nothing happens. And, often, the trigger is the only element missing.

During Black Friday week, though, you're confronted with a trigger bonanza. There's no way you're going to forget that there's a massive sale happening.