Women love Bath & Body works. 

Whenever I visit one of my friends who also happen to be a girl, I find Bath and Body works soup, lotions, candles, body mist, etc. all over the place. Men, on the other hand, like Dettol for some reason. They want to be germ-free I guess. Us, women, we want to experience that sweet scent, the tenderness that comes with it and the relaxation that gets diffused when lighting a strongly scented smell at the end of a long day.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in love with their products too. 

Just pass by the mall and you will find women buying tons of Bath & Body works products. I am one of them. 

I was extremely delighted when they started selling those products online. 

Do you know what I loved the most about the online shop? 

I knew I could buy tons and tons of products and I wouldn’t have to carry them around in the mall. I mean, if you buy candles, lotions, etc., they things really carry some weight. I like to think of my self as strong, but let’s just keep it to mentally strong.

The downside of online shopping though is that I won’t be able to smell every single scent and decide what to buy. Still, the good news is… I already know what I love. 

There is no doubt, most women love Bath & Body works… But, but, where is the but? 

If you look at Bath & Body works prices, you will find that they are significantly higher than the average market price, especially with this hand soup and shower gel stuff. I mean, why would I pay AED 42 for a hand soup, where I can get it for a third of the price at the grocery store? Let’s say I decided to get Palmolive or Lux. These brands also smell pretty good. 

Remember when I said earlier that women love Bath & Body works and that whenever I visit a girlfriend of mine, I would see their products all over the place? 

I am confused. 

How are Bath & Body works products overpriced… and they are all over the place? 

I will tell you. 

Every single woman told me, including myself, that they only buy Bath & Body works products when they are in the sale. 

Does the below “Big Sale” look familiar? 

Bath & Body works are known for the seasonal sale, in which they could go up to 75% off on some products, and well, in this case, an extra 10% for the first time online shoppers. 

So, what do we do? 

We wait until there is a sale and we stock up. Then, when the sale is over and we need hand soup, do you know what we do? We buy it from the grocery store. 

The price is just not justified, especially, that during the sale, we have associated the price to a much lower price than the “regular” price.

And if you live in Dubai, you will get used to those sales. In fact, they happen too often, that when you miss out on a sale, you don’t feel you have missed anything, because you know that an upcoming sale will be just around the corner, maybe in one or two months down the line. 

In our minds, we have associated the discounted price as the baseline. However, there is an upside for Bath & Body works. Every time we see the discounted price, we also see the original “regular” price, which makes us by default associate the brand as a premium one. We have associated the brand as more premium than Palmolive and Lux, so when the time for sale comes, we would always prefer to buy Bath & Body works over the typical hand soup brands we find at the grocery store, even if this means we pay an extra 1 or 2 bucks. 

The psychological heuristic for this behavior is beautifully explained in a recent article written about Amazon Prime Day consumer behavior triggers by Ethan Wolff-Mann

Read: How Amazon Prime Day uses your psychology to get you to buy

Tom Meyvis, a professor at NYU Stern School of Business who studies consumer behavior, said that at its most basic, Prime Day is just a sale.

“Sales have a bunch of psychological mechanisms,” said Meyvis. “People love stuff cheaper than the reference price. They use it as a heuristic — a sign that something’s a good deal rather than rationally looking at what’s the regular price and how much I’d be paying now.”

But also you know what? 

Those of us who were strong enough to not buy anything during the sale period will still be impacted by “inaction inertia”, which means… 

“If you don’t act on a deal, the next time you see the product — even if it’s at a reasonable price or the same — you’re less likely to buy it,” said Meyvis.

Now that I am thinking about it, I might just think that Bath & Body works have’t screwed up their pricing, and perhaps, this is their pricing strategy. 

  1. First, embed the message that it’s a premium product. How? Capitalize on our belief that… Expensive is equal to good, high quality, premium. Put a high price on the product. (Read: This is how we get tricked into buying expensive “stuff” | Tales of an Excessive Spender)
  2. Second, put it on sale. We then, compare it to the reference price, or the original “regular” price, and truly believe it’s a good deal to buy it now
  3. Third, do “The Big Sale” more often. Why? If we have missed out on the sale, which might have resulted in us being impacted by the “inaction inertia”, and well, consequently, we wouldn’t buy the products at the original “regular” price after seeing the discounted one

To be honest with you, I have no clue on what is their pricing strategy, but I also think Bath & Body works are far too smart to screw up their pricing… and if you ask me, I would think they capitalized on those consumer behavior tricks to sell more at peak periods, like about now. 

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