PETALING JAYA - Most online shoppers are no strangers to deal sites where they can get the best bargains on their favourite products and services. Some even subscribe to these sites.
These websites are one of the many marketing tools used by companies to attract new customers with the hope that they will return for more purchases.
It sounds like a win-win situation where customers get a bargain, and the marketers make a profit.
However, many consumers tend to get so caught up in their quest for the cheaper products that they may end up blowing their budgets instead.
Facebook user Nancy Nais said that she used to go crazy over discount deal sites, buying so many at one time thinking that it was a smart move.
"Later I realised it does not help at all in terms of saving," she said adding that most of what she bought was either very basic or only half useful.
"Many merchants staff tried forcing me to buy packages which ended up costing thousands of ringgit.
When it came to food, the pictures were misleading. Not as much or as great as the pictures indicated. "So no more discount deal sites for me," she said.
Another Facebook user, Lim Su Yee related similar experiences when she visited a beauty shop with a coupon endorsed by the company.
"After you have finished your treatment, the people there will always ask you to buy some other beauty stuff which you do not need which often costs you more than a few hundred Ringgit," she said, adding that the sales people tend to beg and pester till the customers succumb into buying at least the cheapest product available just to be get rid of the sales people.
"This is what I experienced and I hope other consumers will not be cheated by these kinds of offers," she said.
University Science Malaysia Economics Sociologist Assoc Prof Dr Chin Yee Whah said that consumers are usually rational actors who compare prices of the products they buy, but sometimes emotions do take over.
"Those websites are designed to attract people to spend money though those products (including services) that may not be necessary for the buyers but they appear cheap to them and they end up buying them," he said.
However, he said that despite the increase in online consumerism, when it comes to the tendency of overspending, the situation is not much different from conventional consumerism.
"If people are not educated and cannot control their emotions, especially impulsive buying, then the potential of overspending and getting into financial difficulty is always there," he said.
Professor Dr Chin added that 'cheap' and 'great value' offers always target certain types of individuals, but the success of this strategy is still unclear.
"Beside education, our value system will determine whether we should buy or we shouldn't when a great offer is in front of us.
"We want it or we need it? That is the question" he said.
RAM Holdings Berhad group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng echoed these views, stating that some of these marketing tactics are used to lure customers with higher earnings and more discretionary income to spend on non-essential purchases.
He added that in the current economic situation, households should be mindful of their expenditure and refrain from impulse buying.
"Plan your budgeting carefully and capitalise on these types of offers. Plan according to needs and be a savvy consumer," he advised.