Over the past decade or so, the number of people buying things online has risen dramatically and has far outpaced the dismal experiences of many brick and mortar retailers. As most people are well aware, those brick and mortar stores constantly offer sales, promotions, and coupons, and online stores do the same thing. Go to the homepage of any popular retailer and you'll see a number of banners offering such and such for a discount.
Why Does this Work?
It has to do with the way people think - if a person thinks he/she can get something for less, that person is much more likely to buy immediately, especially if it's an ephemeral sale - one that won't be around for long. So companies run these ephemeral sales constantly, and they are always starting and ending, hoping to drive more sales of a particular product or category of merchandise.
Let me tell you about a couple great examples of this. I'm a scuba diver, and I often look at dive gear online. LeisurePro.com is a premier online dive supplier, and they are always offering steep discounts on certain products. A while back, I wanted to replace my shorty wetsuit because I had been in the chlorinated pool with my old one, and it was bleached and not doing well. So I visited LeisurePro and started looking at their shorties. One caught my eye - an Akona 3mm, and it was on sale for $63.99. Now this wetsuit regularly retails for $110. I ended up buying the shortie wetsuit, and sure enough, the price went back to $110 a few weeks later. Recently, they were running a special on dive computers - Mares Puck Pro for $129. The regular price is $199. I want to get one of these sometime, but now is not the time. Anyway, you get my point.
Sometimes the retailers aren't so forthcoming about giving you a discount. Many people are just going to buy something regardless of whether they get free shipping or 15% off, but there are those who need some coaxing. I am one of those people. Currently, I'm wearing a hoodie that I might not be wearing if it weren't for a convenient coupon code I found online. It was already discounted, but the shipping fee for ordering something from the Under Armour website was $8, which put the total higher than what I wanted to pay. So I got on Google and started searching for coupons that would bring the total price down just enough so that I wouldn't feel like I was being taken. Sure enough, I found a code that gave me free shipping, and that made me feel much better about making the purchase.
Yes - They do Work
So the answer is that these marketing efforts do work, and they are just part of the overall strategy many online retailers use to increase sales and stay profitable. In many areas of retail, margins are thin, but individual websites can often sell their goods at higher profit margins than companies like Amazon. That's one reason why you don't see Under Armour's entire catalog on Amazon's website - they can make better margins by selling from their own website. And enough people know about Under Armour to go to their website and shop and know they are going to get a quality product.
So next time you're thinking about making an online purchase, try to search every crevice on the internet for a discount that will bring down the total cost. Companies will make more money if you don't find a coupon, but they would rather sell you something at a discount than sell you nothing at all.