Bait Advertising


Bait advertising is a strategic and often deceptive marketing practice where a company advertises a product or service at an extremely low price to attract consumers. However, once the customers are enticed to buy, the advertiser reveals that the advertised product is not available or has limited stock and encourages them to buy a more expensive item. This practice is deemed unethical and is illegal in many regions.


The phonetic spelling for “Bait Advertising” is: /beɪt ˌædvərˈtaɪzɪŋ/.

Key Takeaways


  1. Deceptive Practice: Bait Advertising is considered a deceptive marketing strategy that thrives on luring customers with the promise of low prices or great deals on certain products, only to redirect them to more expensive items once they are engaged.
  2. Customer Dissatisfaction: While this tactic may bring in immediate sales, it can backfire by creating distrust and dissatisfaction among customers. This can ultimately damage brand reputation and adversely affect customer loyalty.
  3. Legal Consequences: Since bait advertising can be perceived as a form of false advertising, it may lead to legal repercussions, including fines and lawsuits, depending on the jurisdiction and severity of the offense.



Bait advertising is an important term in the realm of technology and digital marketing because it highlights a strategic technique where advertisers attract customers with enticing deals or promotions for a product or service that might not actually be available or only available in very limited quantities. The goal is to ‘bait’ consumers to connect with the brand or visit the store or website, where they are then encouraged to purchase other items at regular or higher prices, known as the ‘switch’. While this strategy can drive consumer engagement and sales, it can also be considered deceptive or unethical if not implemented appropriately. Knowledge of this term is essential for both consumers to avoid potential exploitations, and marketers to carefully use this strategy ensuring consumer trust and satisfaction.


The primary purpose of bait advertising, a common practice among online and offline retailers, is to attract potential customers to a particular product or service by advertising it at an unusually low price. When customers show interest, they may discover that this product or service is no longer available or exists in minimal quantities. This ‘bait’ leads customers to the business, only for the client to typically be encouraged to consider higher-priced alternatives.Besides promoting alternative pricier products, bait advertising often allows businesses to gauge consumer interest in certain commodities. By advertising a product or service at a knock-down price, companies can effectively gain insights into market trends and customer preferences. The seemingly attractive deal presented by bait advertising can lure potential customers into a marketing funnel, giving companies a chance to upsell or cross-sell other more expensive products or services. To summarize, bait advertising is a strategic tool mainly used to attract customers and boost business revenues.


1. Electronic Stores: Often, electronics stores may advertise high-end products such as latest laptops, televisions or gaming consoles at a significantly low price to attract customers into the store. However, once the customers arrive, they are informed that the advertised product is sold out or no longer available and are instead directed towards more expensive or less desirable models. This is bait advertising as consumers were “baited” into the store with the allure of a good deal they couldn’t actually receive. 2. Supermarkets and Grocery Stores: Certain expensive items in supermarkets like exotic fruits or certain types of fish may be advertised at discounted rates in leaflets or promotional emails. When customers visit the store to purchase these items, they may find that the advertised products are out of stock. Then, the store would lead the customer to buy similar but higher priced items. This is another clear example of bait advertising.3. Online Retailers: Many online retails stores might advertise goods at a very cheap rate, attracting a huge number of customers. Upon checkout, the customers discover that the product is no longer available or they might be steered towards buying a “better”, but more expensive version of the product. In some cases, the low-priced item is available but only if a larger total spend is achieved, driving the consumer to buy more products than they originally intended.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is Bait Advertising?A: Bait advertising is a tactics practice where a merchant offers a product at a very low price to attract customers, and then persuades them to purchase a more expensive item.Q: Is Bait Advertising illegal? A: Yes and no. Bait and switch advertising is illegal in many territories, but it depends on the specific laws of the territory. It’s best practice for businesses to abide by ethical guidelines and not misleading consumers.Q: How can I report a company that uses Bait Advertising?A: If you believe you’ve been a victim of bait advertising, you can report the company to your local consumer protection agency or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States.Q: What is the difference between Bait Advertising and switch selling?A: Bait advertising refers to advertising a product at a low price without the intention to supply it. On the other hand, switch selling involves persuading a consumer to buy a different product when they seek to purchase the advertised product.Q: How can I avoid falling for Bait Advertising?A: One way to avoid this is to stay informed and carefully read the details of an offer before purchasing, including small prints. Also, consumers should be cautious of unusually low-priced products.Q: Can online businesses engage in Bait Advertising?A: Yes, online businesses can (and do) engage in bait advertising. Just like in physical stores, they can advertise a product at a low price and then try to upsell the customer to a higher-priced product.Q: How is Bait Advertising different from genuinely promoting sale items?A: The primary difference lies in intention. Companies genuinely promoting sale items intend to sell those items at the advertised price. In contrast, bait advertising purposely advertises items at an unrealistic price, with the intention of selling higher-priced items. Q: What’s the impact of Bait Advertising on consumer trust?A: If consumers find out that a business has used bait advertising, it can significantly damage their trust in that business, which might lead to a loss in sales and reputation.

Related Technology Terms

  • Clickbait
  • Lead Generation
  • False Advertising
  • Consumer Protection
  • Sales Promotion

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