When it comes to haggling for a good deal, not every price is up for negotiation. Your mainstream grocery store probably won’t give you a discount on milk or bread just because you ask for one. But when you’re shopping for a car or even repair services for your home, the art of the deal could be built around bartering.
But which purchases are worth the effort, and do you really stand a chance at bagging a better bargain? The answer is yes, and we’re going to tell you where!
We surveyed over 3,100 people from around the world (including North America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia) to understand what it takes to be a good price negotiator – from the role gender could be playing in your ability to score a better deal to how much good looks might matter in your culture. Keep reading to see what we learned about when and where you should try to negotiate – whether you’re taking a taxi in Mexico or buying jewelry in Australia – and how much it might save you.
There’s no denying successful negotiations take a certain amount of skill. If you’re good at it, you might even make a living out of negotiating with people regularly. While some of that savvy may be learned behavior, some studies suggest negotiation may be wired into our personalities. Things like emotional intelligence and cognitive ability could impact the way we analyze a situation, interact with other people, and ultimately strike a better bargain.
Our survey found men around the world were more likely to enjoy haggling than women. Thirty-seven percent of women appreciated the process of negotiating compared to 45 percent of men. Enjoying the game doesn’t always mean being good at it, though. Women admitted to landing a steeper discount than men on average – 18 percent versus 17 percent, respectively.
Your success at bargaining might also depend on where in the world you’re trying to finagle a deal. According to our survey, people from Colombia, Chile and the Greece typically enjoyed bargaining the most, while those from United Arab Emirates, Chile and Greece scored the best deals. In Asian countries especially, the art of negotiation is built around establishing quality relationships across both sides of the table. In these cultures, friendship can come before business, and haggling over prices isn’t a burden – it can be an opportunity to converse or get to know someone.
Experts have identified that people from Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. prefer a more direct and frank negotiation style or to lace their bargaining with humor, which can be ineffective or lead to confrontation. Less than half of Americans enjoyed negotiating for lower prices, although they typically achieved 17 percent off when they did.
In the same way that personality traits can impact a person’s skill at negotiating, it’s possible that gender could play a role as well. Men and women around the world differed on how much they enjoyed haggling, and research shows this could be a product of their sex. Studies have suggested men and women approach negotiations differently from both sides of the deal. While men may prefer to negotiate with power, women are more inclined to compromise.
A majority of the countries – with the Philippines on top of them – believed it was much easier for women than men to haggle. However, many countries (including Spain, Argentina, Chile and the U.K.) believed the success of haggling was equal, regardless of gender. In only 5 countries–Czechia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Portugal and the U.S. –did participants suggest negotiating was easier for men than women.
It’s hard to tell if confidence makes people more attractive, or if being attractive makes you feel more confident, but survey respondents admitted good looks could have some bearing on the ability to negotiate more effectively. Of course, the traits that make a person attractive aren’t only skin deep, and there are learned behaviors that can make a person seem more charming during a tough negotiation. Listening more, smiling often, and being mindful of appearance and hygiene are said to be some of the traits of attractive people.
Regardless of their country of origin, 4 percent of women and 6 percent of men said attractiveness rarely or never influenced one’s ability to haggle. Many were split on the subject, with nearly 1 in 4 women and more than 1 in 5 men suggesting a person’s looks could sometimes play a role in their negotiation skills. And 20 percent of women told us attractiveness either often or always made an impact on haggling, men were more inclined to believe looks often or always played a substantial role in the art of the deal.
While men were more likely than women to suggest good looks might have a consistent influence when negotiating, research has found men are also more likely to overestimate their appearance. And even though men told us appearance was more valuable in haggling than women did, women were more likely to bag a better deal in the end.
Fair or not, plenty of studies show appearance matters when it comes to success. While the notion of appearance may not always be exclusively linked to physical features, it can include elements like body language and the way you present yourself (including highly visible accessories like hair colorings, piercings, and tattoos).
Our survey found some countries believed attractiveness was a primary factor in successful price negotiations. In Canada and the U.S., people admitted good looks had the most significant impact on a person’s ability to haggle. On the contrary, in the Philippines and India, people were less likely to submit to the power of appearance. Could this mean that Eastern and Western cultures have different priorities? Research suggests Eastern countries (including China, Malaysia, or Indonesia) may value money more than Western countries. In countries where attractiveness was seen as a valuable asset during negotiation, love was considered more important than money.
In the Philippines people also acknowledged that women tended to have a leg up when it came to negotiating. Research has shown women in Asia are typically more confident in their financial savvy than their spouses and learn to manage money at a younger age compared to other cultures. As evidenced by their long history of powerful female political figures, some experts suggest Asian women are also more likely to be seen as equal partners when it comes to business and finance.
Our survey shows that over half of the Singaporean population enjoy haggling (55%), yet comparing to other Southeast Asian nationalities (Indonesia, Hong Kong, Philippines) this number is quite mediocre. Despite the highly shopping-oriented culture of Singapore haggling is usually more enjoyable for men (62%) than women (50%).
What’s more, the study suggests that – on average – men in Singapore tend to land a slightly better discount than women: 19 percent versus 17 percent, respectively.
Interestingly though, according to the researched belief Singaporeans claim that haggling is in fact much easier for women (47%) than for men (18%). Physical attractiveness is greatly affecting price negotiations according to 29% of Singaporeans, and this is very close to the worldwide average of 30%.
When comparing to other nationalities Singaporeans score rather average discounts, however when they do, most likely it is – unsurprisingly – on taxi rides (14%), house repairs (14%) and cleaning services (12%).
In the U.S., the average gym membership costs roughly $60 a month, and more than 2 in 3 go unused. If you’re one of the many Americans paying each month for a more specialized workout, you could be forking over even more. In Brazil, Italy, and Canada, people were the most likely to negotiate a better deal for those workout sessions.
It may not seem worthwhile to try and bring down the cost of your rent or cellphone bill in some countries, but in other places of the world, you could be overpaying if you don’t at least try. In Canada, if you’re renting a home directly from the owner, a little negotiation before you sign the lease could help you save hundreds of dollars each month. In European countries such as France, Spain, and the U.K., there are tips you can use to prevent overpaying on your phone bill in the first place, but if that doesn’t work, people from these countries suggested asking for a better rate anyway.
When it comes to Australia the conclusions are quite clear as well – it looks like home decor goods with furniture and antiques on top of the list are considered as a must-haggle categories of goods. In the U.S., one of the most common items to haggle over was the price of a car, with Americans being 60 percent more likely to mediate their way to a better price before driving off the lot. While significantly less common in other countries, a third of people from European countries like Germany and the U.K. were likely to do the same.
When it comes to taking your car in for service, negotiating the rate (before the service is completed) can be the difference between getting a fair and honest price or being taken for a ride – especially if you’re a woman. Studies have shown car repair shops often upsell women into buying services they might not even need in the first place. Still, when it comes to haggling over the cost of fixing their cars, men were more likely than women to get their hands dirty. Negotiating for home repairs and taxi rides were also more likely to be performed by men than women.
Men may have been more willing to barter over the big stuff, but women were more willing to negotiate price points when it came to phone bills, housing, and cleaning. Research has found that while women often tend to negotiate less frequently than men, they also know how to pick their battles to come out ahead. This doesn’t necessarily mean they shouldn’t try, as our survey found they were often better at bringing down the list price than men.
Regardless of where in the world you may find yourself, whether you’re a man or a woman, or how attractive you think you are, there are specific skills you can still practice (and perfect) when it comes to negotiating. Be personable, talk up the quality of the product, and never take the first offer. You may not always strike the deal you want, but you’ll build your confidence – and future success – in the process.
When it comes to the purchases men and women were most willing to negotiate to a better price, clothes came out on top. Fourteen percent of men and 17 percent of women were the most willing to haggle over clothes, followed by cars and antiques. In the U.S., nearly every element of the car buying process is up for grabs as long as you remember to keep emotion out of the process and focus on the price. Experts recommend knowing what you want to pay before you walk into the showroom and getting quotes from multiple dealerships before pulling the trigger.
Items most people didn’t think were worth trying to score a better bargain on? Their cellphone bills, rent, and mattresses.
When it comes to negotiating a good deal on just about anything, there are multiple variables to consider – from the actual value of the item or service to the emotional connection you or the seller may feel toward it. Even cultural norms and practices can come into play when deciding what’s worth haggling over.
Negotiating a fair price on your own can be complicated, but finding good deals shouldn’t be. At Picodi, we put the best online discounts and deals in one place so you don’t have to worry about paying too much for the things you want or need. With a wide selection of offers from all your favorite retailers in 35 countries around the world, Picodi is your smart shopping companion. Visit us at Picodi.com to start saving now.
We surveyed more than 3,100 people from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania to make up 44 countries and cultures. This particular survey is to help readers understand price haggling practices throughout the world.
Are your readers interested in easy ways to save money? We’d love to see the results of our study shared on your website for any noncommerical purposes. Please ensure a link back to this page, so your readers can see our study in its entirety and our contributors earn credit for their work.