There is one word to best describe negotiating in Morocco and that is as an art, given that you need to be very quick-witted and learn the hard way, in order to know how to defend yourself in the curious world of Moroccan bargaining. If you are a person who has never tried it, below we have put together a list of advice which will help you deal with the matter and leave still in one piece.
To begin, we have provided a list of advice that officially establishes the negotiation protocol in Morocco.
- A certain flexibility is required when negotiating and you must not show that you are in a hurry
- Ramadan is not a good period for bargaining
- Bargaining is the normal way of carrying out concessions
- During the meetings, introductions are prolonged and it is not advisable to focus the conversation on the business at hand too quickly
- A formal manner should be maintained and you should shake hands at first, whilst maintaining eye contact
- Any signs or offers will be written in Arabic and French
- It is important to build a relationship with a local market trader to be used on a daily basis
You mustn’t discuss religion nor be advised on political matters
1. Avoid smiling
Everything that you would consider as common manners will not help you when bargaining. The market is full of professional hagglers to whom you must challenge equally. And for them, the biggest mistake would be to break a smile and seem weak when negotiating in morocco.
2. Be aware they understand you
So haggling in one language then commenting on your strategy to a friend in another would be a as big a blunder as telling the merchant to their face, since most of them would be able to understand perfectly what you have just said.
3. Use the look
This is the market-trader’s main weapon. The disturbing, intense look of the merchant is one that intimidates tourists so much, that they end up accepting any negotiation in order to get it out of the way as quickly as possible. The same thing happens in Arabia and Turkey, countries in which the natives take advantage of their dark eyes for added intensity. Equating your facial expressions with theirs would be a good tactic.
4. Don’t go directly to the product you’re interested in
When negotiating in morocco, before bargaining for the product you are looking for straight away, ask about others that you are not going to buy. Juggle with the possibility of buying some things, making sure they are more expensive than the item you want and then finally ask about the product in question. Once you have done this, it will be easier for them to see that you do not have that much money and that the price you are setting is the maximum.
5. Imply that you don’t have much money
In relation to the previous point, once you have it in your head that you have set a reasonable price that you do not want to surpass for the product, take the money out of your pocket and show the merchant that you have no more. If they tell you that they won´t accept it, pretend to leave and it is highly likely that they will reduce it for you. This shows the trader how much you really have and that you have no more options. You can even confide in him by saying that you are “poor”. In the end he will give in.
6. Pay in the local currency
The reason for doing this being that it will always end up being cheaper than paying in euros.
7. Keep going
A bargain usually takes about 20 minutes. They are professionals and you should be stubborn, so the interests of both of you will conflict until one of you gets away with it. They have all day and you do not, but it is also true that how much money they have to eat depends on if you buy from them or not. So do not give up.
8. Pícales con la competencia
If after a long attempt you still don’t get what you are looking for, tell them that the same thing you are haggling for is for sale in another stall nearby for cheaper and that you are planning to go there to buy it. Rivalry will most likely make them fall into your trap.
9. Do not enter their stores
Remain in your comfort zone. You should remain on the boundary of the market place and the stall for any haggling. If the stall is inside, enter only as far as the average tourist is allowed, do not access restricted areas of the owner or you will be in their domains.
10. Be tolerant
Under no circumstances should you reduce yourself to insult them or create cultural tensions that could end up as dangerous confrontations. Be kind and serious but still respect that you are doing business.
It is imperative to be socially intelligent. If you are not, it is essential to prepare beforehand because otherwise it is very easy for the negotiations to fail. They are slow negotiators and need to establish personal relationships before dealing with business issues, so you will need to make several visits to the country, gain their trust and forge long-term relationships. Decision making is done in a hierarchical way, so it is imperative to maintain contact and carry out negotiations with executives or authorities of a higher rank and with more capacity of decision.
Now, go ahead!
Become an expert negotiator on one of our trips to Morocco. If you are interested, do not hesitate to get in touch with Unitrips. We offer all types of adapted and flexible routes that take into account your personal needs with trip durations ranging from two to nine days. Check out our tours and take advantage!
Translated by Kirsty Booth