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Is It Better When You “Win” It?

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Ebay has been running an interesting campaign over the last couple of weeks. You may have seen a series of "Shop Victoriously" commercials. These show people in competition for some kind of trinket or collector's item, such as a classic lunch box or an urn. By the end of the commercial one person stands with the item as a trophy. On some commercials the voice over is, "It's better when you win it." You can read more about this marketing campaign on Ebay's website.

For time to time, my wife has come to me saying that she "won" something on Ebay. I try not to be the kind of person that corrects other people, but this line of thinking tears me up inside. What kind of prize requires you to pay near market value for it? I don't doubt that there are legit bargains, but why not say, "I found it on a bargain price on Ebay." I think of Ebay as a flea market or yard sale with worse pricing due to it serving a national market and requiring shipping. Would you say that you "won" an item at flea market?

Psychologically, I think this line of thinking of is very dangerous to your personal finances. If you equate Ebay purchases with "winning" you may be more likely to buy things you don't need. I may need to add this to my list of ways companies use psychology to trick you.

While I'm on the topic of the "Shop Victoriously" commercials, check out when the quarterback runs to his right. It may be hard to see on this YouTube clip, but the urn turns back into a football from that view. It's much easier to see on live TV.

Posted on October 24, 2007.

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14 Responses to “Is It Better When You “Win” It?”

  1. Good point. I’ve had similar thoughts about these commercials. They are entertaining, but they really promote shopping as a fun thing to do, rather than going on Ebay to find a really good bargain on something that you need or want for the sake of frugality.

    Not that this is out of line in our consumerist culture, but I would view this as the wrong way to think about shopping. That being said, these commercials do not even approach the detestable nature of the ‘pay for everything with a credit card and don’t slow everyone down with CASH’ credit card commercials that seem to air on everything I watch.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    Interesting point Finance and Fat. I think it’s worse for people to buy things they don’t need (if they can’t afford them), then how they choose to pay (credit vs. cash). I’m a big fan of credit cards, but you have to have the discipline to pay them off each month.

  3. alicia says:

    People call it winning because that’s the appropriate word to use in relation to an auction, regardless whether what you’re buying is necessary or frivolous, or a good deal.

  4. Laura says:

    I love looking at great deals on Ebay, but i’m not into the auction swipes at the end. I’m always on the losing side. I don’t want to make an impulsive bid at the last minute.

  5. Lazy Man says:

    Perhaps I should have gone into how “winning” and auction is very much doublespeak (popularized in the book, 1984). Winning should only be appropriate for an auction of a perceived good deal. Would you look at me funny if I said, “I won an auction for an ordinary $1 bill… it only cost me $100”?

  6. Money Socket says:

    This is definitely eBay’s way of getting more people to buy. I think the word victorious stirs up certain emotions in everyone. Obviously you want to associate yourself with that word. Therefore, it makes it seem that as long as you “win” an item then you are victorious regardless of how expensive or unnecessary that item is. However, I do find eBay to be a very competitive market, and you can get some pretty good prices on the same items offline or on websites.

  7. The Div Guy says:

    Where is part 3? Go Sox!

  8. Lazy Man says:

    Part 3 is coming… I’d keep an eye for it tomorrow.

  9. Patrick says:

    Lazy, I’ll agree with your point of view on this, but from a marketing perspective, you have to admit it’s borderline brilliant. If they can work this phrase into the American sub-culture, then subconsciously, more people will “win” because it’s the “fun” thing to do.

    Coincidentally, until this You Tube clip, I hadn’t seen the commercial because I rarely watch TV… Because I hate commercials.

  10. Traciatim says:

    I\’m with Patrick, I\’m basically boycotting TV due to the extreme amount of commercials. I also hadn\’t seen this ad. Though I completely agree with it\’s concept and it is quite a brilliant campaign. This is an excellent example of exactly why I don\’t watch TV anymore.

    You don\’t win an item at a flea market because the goal of a flea market is to purchase and item on sale from an individual at a negotiated price. The transaction is only between you and another person for a set value.

    Contrasting it with the auction there is no interaction with the seller, except to ask questions during a usual viewing period. At this point it become a competition with multiple other people who are trying to obtain the same goal; all at once. This makes it more like a race, where there can be only one person to obtain the goal, hence making that person a winner.

    If the flea market had one goal to find a certain item first and that was the only item for sale that day, then all people seeking that item would also be competing, and the person to find the item and purchase it would also have \’won\’.

    You win when you are the person or team out of a group of people or teams to obtain a goal that others are seeking which can no longer be attained once you attain it. No matter if that goal is to purchase an item, over pay for something, or win a race.


  11. Brip Blap says:

    I’m with Patrick – it’s a horrendous thing but fantastic marketing. EBay was brilliant to add the feeling of gambling and gaming to their transactions. Instead of buying something like you do at Amazon, you WIN! You actually have to respect the marketing ploy. Since my wife sells on eBay and we hardly ever purchase there (the only exception is refrigerator water filters which are much cheaper there than elsewhere) I’m all for the “win” concept. Good observation, though.

    Go Sox. Blah. Go Pats. Blah. What a year…

  12. escapee says:

    Spending money is never “winning”. It’s quite the opposite- “losing” (money). I remember thinking how odd the terminology was the first time I used ebay and a friend asked me if I’d “won” anything. It’s definitely a brilliant psychological trick.

  13. Pinyo says:

    I agree this is dangerous for the consumers. The psychology of winning has always been a problem for eBayers. Now they are spinning it positively…go figure.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My problem is I don’t use eBay enough. I am too busy searching all the deal websites that I forget I can get some really great deals on eBay. I like the commercial, but I agree with Pinyo, especially since my dad used to be addicted to eBay.

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