Retail Reframing: Adjusting Future Timeframes to Boost Sales

Retail ReframingI visited Ireland for the first time a few weeks ago and was utterly charmed by it. Not only is the country geographically lovely and jam-packed with delightful restaurants, pubs, and shops, but I appreciated what I’d call the Irish attitude. In general, the people were outgoing, interested in conversation, and above all, approached topics with a sense of humor. (And yes, I know this is a blanket stereotype and I am sure there are surly Irish introverts out there, but the people I met weren’t those.)The sense of humor was on display in this retail sign I passed outside a clothing shop on a run. It caught my eye firmly enough that I circled back on my run to make sure I snapped a photo.


Buried under the joke are a few psychological truths about how people plan their behaviors and calibrate their spending:

  • We underestimate future pain, so we may not realize the full damage incurred spending rent money on something fabulous now at the time we make the decision. The more distant and unclear the future seems, the more likely we are to sign ourselves up for things we will eventually regret.
  • Behavioral economics explains that people make decisions based on factors including (perceived) risk and their values. Reframing the decision about whether or not to buy Chanel now in terms of a more uncertain future is a way to downplay the value a person might place on budgeting for necessities.

My guess–my hope–is that no one made a decision to raid their rent fund in favor of designer clothes from siopaella.  The example just shows that even tongue-in-cheek advertising may leverage psychological dynamics to communicate its point.