Limited-time offers in sales

Behavioral Insights Germany and Saudi Arabia

Limited-time offers have long been used by salespeople and marketers to lure customers to snatch up bargains. The less time customers have to think, one might assume, the more likely it is that they make an impulsive purchase and stop looking for alternatives.

Interesting food for thought on this classic practice comes from an experiment conducted at the Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science at the @University of East Anglia. The research team around Robert Sugden, Mengjie Wang, and Daniel Zizzo surprisingly found that people given a series of time-limited offers were more likely to choose an offer when they had more time to think (not less!). Tripling the time available on offers increased the probability that an offer was chosen by 13%. The team also discovered that risk-aversion played a dominant role but there was no evidence that regret avoidance was intensified by time constraints alone.

Their findings illustrate how challenging the basic assumptions around market behaviors can yield significant learnings for marketers and salespeople. A better understanding of actual behaviors can not only improve promotion tactics and conversion rates, but also provide key insights for consumer protection and regulatory efforts.


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