3 superstitions that affect consumer behaviour

Sales By Josanne Griffin-Mason, 13th March 2015

You may write them off as superfluous, but spooky consumer superstitions may be having some serious implications for your business…

Businesses lose £584 million1 on Friday the 13th because employees are afraid to leave home

The origin of paraskevidekatriaphobia (the fear of Friday the 13th) is still unknown.

Perhaps it’s Biblical; Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus, was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper after all. Plus many believe that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Or perhaps the number 12 is so comforting in its ability to harmonise hours, months, and the zodiac, that the number thirteen just puts us on edge with its irregularity.

Whatever the logic, people are genuinely afraid to leave their homes, travel and go to work on Friday the 13th.

In 2015, we’ll experience Friday the 13th three times, in February, March and November. It may seem dramatic to the non-believer, but it’s worth providing materials to allow for home-working as a measure of damage control, such as a laptop, portable internet and a mobile for work purposes.

80%2 of high-rise buildings do not have 13th floors

If you booked in to a hotel, only to find that you’d been given the key to Suite 13, would you still stay the night? Or if you had an important pitch scheduled and the confirmation directed you to the thirteenth floor, would you expect to close that sale?

Superstitions surrounding the number 13 extend far beyond the date, and companies go to extreme lengths to avoid bad vibes affecting their businesses.

That’s why high-rise offices skip the thirteenth floor altogether and you’ll struggle to find Room 13 in most hotels.

To prevent triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number thirteen) causing detriment to your business, avoid using the number in your RRPs, and be wary when organising events for thirteen people or at addresses that feature the number thirteen, as you may find that your guests won’t show up*.

Lucky numbers inspire sales

In research conducted by Kramer and Block, it was discovered that consumers will spend more if the price has lucky connotations3.

Eight is a fortunate number in China, so Kramer and Block offered Taiwanese consumers a radio priced at $777 and $888. Surprisingly, despite being 15% more expensive, customers found comfort in parting with more cash for the same radio.

To expand on this, the researchers tested customer expectations in relation to the colour red, which is lucky in Chinese culture. Upon failure of their purchase (a rice cooker that burnt rice), consumers were significantly more disappointed if the rice cooker was red than if it was green or a neutral colour, once again proving the weight that superstitions hold in moulding consumer behaviour.

In the UK, seven is an affable number, and it can be used to generate consumer interest and produce positive associations with your products or services. With this is mind, it’s worth incorporating the number seven in to your pricing strategy, or giving your potential customers seven reasons to do business with you when marketing to them.

*Do note, you may be accused of having triskaidekaphobia yourself when doing this!

1 Elite Daily, 2014. 13 Of The Scariest Things That Have Happened On Friday The 13th. [Online] Available at: http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/13-weird-things-happened-friday-13th/631804/.
2 Mojo Facts, 2014. Number 13 Facts. [Online] Available at: http://www.mojofacts.com/number-13-facts/.
3 Eurek Alert, 2008. Are you feeling lucky? How superstition impacts consumer choice. [Online] Available at: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/uocp-ayf021208.php.
All information sources accessed on Friday the 13th of February 2015.