Indonesians are the keenest hagglers in Asia
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Indonesians are the keenest hagglers in Asia

FOR SOME, haggling is an innate art form, but for others, it is a dreaded factor of buying items without a set price.

Of course, there are items that aren’t up for discussion, such as the groceries that line the mainstream supermarket shelves. But other trinkets are worth bargaining for, especially if you’re a foreigner not wanting to be ripped off.

According to a recent study conducted by shopping platform Picodi, Columbians enjoy haggling the most around the globe, with 86 percent claiming to get a buzz out of it.

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Of the Asian nations polled in the survey, it is the Indonesians who win the haggling game with their keen negotiating skills. Some 66 percent said they enjoyed bartering down the price of their intended item.

Out of 3,100 people surveyed, from 27 countries across the globe, males proved to get the most enjoyment out of haggling, however, it is females who are most successful in bartering as they receive an average of 18 percent off the original asking price.


Source: Picodi

There are numerous factors involved in setting up and executing a brilliant bargain. The study acknowledges that emotional intelligence, being able to read body language and assess a situation all contribute towards being a successful haggler.

Yet, it found that those from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and United States preferred to be more direct and negotiate in frank terms. While this can often save time, it can also cause friction and lead to confrontation.

However, some Asian nations believe it has more to do with gender bias than having good negotiating skills.


Muslim women browse for headscarves at a market in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, on July 29, 2013. Source: AP/Heri Juanda

Almost 60 percent of Filipinos think it is easier for women to drive a hard bargain based on their gender, and only 17 percent of Indonesians think there is gender equality in haggling.

Taking gender and looks a step further, the study digs deep into how attractiveness influences haggling. Around half of all survey respondents admitted good looks could sometimes have a bearing on how successful a negotiation is.

But there is more to attractiveness than just someone’s exterior. Having an air of charm about you, keeping good hygiene, smiling and being mindful all help to secure that bargain price.

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Country by country, however, it appears those from the Philippines and India are less likely to submit to the power of appearance, whereas in Western cultures the seller can be seduced into offering a low price by a beautiful haggler.

Most interestingly perhaps, is what different nations are most willing to haggle for. Malaysians appear to barter the most with taxi drivers for a lower fare, whereas Australians are all about getting bargain antiques.


Source: Pixabay

A whopping 74 percent of Filipinos and 65 percent of Indonesians are willing to barter for clothes. But bargain-basement precious jewels take the lead in India as 71 percent said they would haggle down the price when purchasing jewelry.

Each nation has its own cultural faux pas when it comes to haggling, but often enough, the same rules apply in any barter.

Just remember not to be shy and do a little research on your purchase beforehand, unless it’s a tourist souvenir. Also, always be nice and never get personal. Get straight on the charm offensive and if you consider yourself witty by nature, then use it to secure what you want.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister website Travel Wire Asia