Why consumers won't bargain-hunt for tattoos

Shoppers may like to save money at the cash register, but they also say bargain-hunting isn't a consideration for a few purchases -- like condoms and tattoos. 

Consumers also said they're most concerned with quality when it comes to condoms, according a recent survey by Avya Skincare.

The survey "revealed that most consumers care more about the quality of the big stuff in life, like birth control," the company said. Yet it's somewhat ironic that personal grooming services like bikini waxes, manicures, pedicures, tattoos and salon hair coloring ranked low, given Avya produces makeup products.

As for other services, consumers say they value quality in car repairs above that of electrical repairs. Dentists, meanwhile, were rated on quality one notch above doctors. Rounding out the bottom of the list were accountants and financial advisors.  

So, just how and why are these surveys done and, more importantly, are they accurate? Avya relied on an Amazon service called the "Mechanical Turk" to obtain responses from 2,000 people. Amazon pays people for work, including filling out surveys such as this. The Amazon service's name comes from an alleged 18th century "computer" that beat France's Napoleon Bonaparte at chess. It was later revealed that a human chess player was hiding inside the box and making the moves.

As for bargain hunting, consumers say there are times when getting a good deal isn't on their minds, like when they're condom shopping. Other bargain-resistant products and services include doctors, tattoos, therapy, dentists, financial advisors and eyebrow waxing. 

Shoppers want to find good deals on clothing, however. Other products that are the focus of bargain-hunting include cars, toys and toilet paper.

"Online shopping has allowed us to see the purest form of consumer behavior," said Matt Zajechowski, who represents Avya. "Bargain hunting is more possible than ever."

Men are less likely than women to care about the quality of services, particularly beauty services. There are also some generational differences, with millennials more attuned to the quality of their tattoos than baby boomers. But when it came to condoms, there was no statistically significant difference between the sexes as regards the quality and pricing of a product. 

"We did not ask which gender was most likely to make the buying decisions," said Zajechowski.

The survey included all income brackets, but most responses came from households earning between $30,000 to $90,000. While everyone was looking for bargains, "someone at a higher income level might have a different idea of what a bargain is," Avya concluded.

Overall, when it comes to shopping, the rising economic tide is still floating all the boats. Investment banker Morgan Stanley said in its latest research report that its U.S. retail sales model had a 0.6 percent growth in July. 

  • Ed Leefeldt

    Ed Leefeldt is an award-winning investigative and business journalist who has worked for Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones, and contributed to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also the author of The Woman Who Rode the Wind, a novel about early flight.