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Can clever marketing hinder good negotiations?

Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor

Faculty Blog

Someone once said to me that you can only really negotiate when you don't really need the deal. At the time I dismissed his comment as utter madness, but did he have a point?

In the past, when I went to buy something that I really wanted, or needed, I was far more likely to pay a higher price, agree terms much more quickly and even accept less than satisfactory terms just to get it. Obviously, these days, after years of learning and practice, I can hold myself back much better, but I can’t be alone in the struggle.

After a quick survey of friends and colleagues, they too reported that desire for what they want can ultimately affect how well they negotiate. There seems to be a correlation between desirability and our negotiating behaviours. Where we perceive a need for something, or even a possibility of unavailability, we are more likely to give in quickly, pay more and push less hard for discounts.

It is a bit like our old friend the BATNA. If the alternative is less attractive, if we will somehow suffer a loss without this deal, then we are pushed towards accepting a less attractive deal just to get what we want.

If, on the other hand, we don’t really need the deal because the alternative without it is as good or even better, then this gives us an imagined 'power' to push for more from the deal.

Is clever marketing to blame? If the desirability of the thing we want is a trigger for us accepting a poorer deal, then all a marketing team needs to do is make it seem that we can’t live without the product they want us to buy.

What is the solution? Try to stop your emotions getting in the way of a negotiation, understand your limits and make sure that, however much you want the item, you don’t cross your exit points. And remember, nothing is so important that we don’t trade for movement.