There’s a reason companies spend millions and even billions of dollars on advertising each year: to make their bottom lines grow.
Clever ads aren’t the only way they’re enticing you to buy their products, though. Plenty of companies also spend some serious coin on figuring out ways to convince you to go over your original budget. This includes research about how the customer’s mind works and how they will respond to certain situations.
Unfortunately, this is bad news for consumers, as we have almost no say in how much we spend. Seriously. Shoppers are almost powerless against the tactics and often go along with the plan unwillingly. When you know what you’re up against, however, you may stand a chance.
Location, Location, Location
It’s been said that location is everything. When you see just how much goes into deciding where merchandise is placed, you might believe it, as well.
Are you lost?
Have you ever found yourself wandering aimlessly in a grocery store, lost because you couldn’t find an item that would make sense if it was displayed in a different location?
If so, you fell victim to a ploy that grocery stores use to get their customers good and confused. The goal is to confuse patrons, because when they’re scratching their heads, they’re likely to spend more on impulse purchases.
Cheaper items have a highly valued position.
Walk into most stores and you’ll see the clearance or bargain items front and center. Their location isn’t a coincidence; it’s to trick you into spending more money.
Those in the retail world will tell you that these cheap buys are called “open-the-wallet” items, as their mission is to get you into the spending mood. The belief is that once you break the ice with a small purchase, you’ll feel more comfortable laying down the big bucks on costlier finds.
Shopping is seen as an experience.
Retailers know that shopping isn’t just about getting what you need, it’s also an experience and even therapy for some. Read on to find out how stores use this to their advantage.
Pay attention to how you’re treated.
It makes sense that the nicer someone is to you, the more inclined you feel to return the favor. When it comes to shopping, however, the opposite is sometimes true.
According to an article on HuffPost, research conducted by the University of British Columbia shows that in high-end stores, consumers are more likely to purchase expensive items when treated rudely by the sales people waiting on them. The opposite was found with mass-market brands.
They play tricks on your ears.
If your ears are easily persuaded, you may be in trouble the next time you hit the store.
Retailers are all about finding ways to pleasantly encourage their customers to reach a bit deeper into their pockets than they initially intended. One way to accomplish this is by creating a calm, relaxing, and peaceful atmosphere.
Noise pollution like loud talkers, crying babies, blaring music, and yelling children can irk your nerves and make you want to leave, which is bad news for retailers when it happens in their stores.
If you feel good where you are, however, chances are you’ll stick around for a while. And if your last paycheck is already burning a hole in your pocket while you’re there, it’s a safe bet you’ll splurge on an additional item or two.
Retailers attempt to lull consumers into money-spending stupors by creating relaxing and pleasant environments. One way to achieve this is by manipulating their ears with soothing and sometimes nostalgic music.
Playing classical-style music in stores is common in the retail scene, not only because of its therapeutic properties, but also because it influences shoppers to spend more. This could be due to the genre’s perceived connection to the affluent world. In other words, shoppers feel like high rollers when jamming out to classical tunes, which causes them to drop more dough than they probably otherwise would.
Stores also play on their customers’ emotions by selecting music that evokes a sense of nostalgia, particularly during the holiday season. This could be the reason why Halloween decorations and holiday music tend to hit the stores around the same time: to entice customers to start spending sooner, rather than later.
The nose isn’t off limits.
That’s not love in the air you smell. That’s a marketing tactic.
There’s no shame in most retailers’ games, which means they don’t mind sending subliminal messages to your nose. Store employees fill the air with inviting scents, as their employers know that “warm” fragrances make consumers feel crowded and ultimately less confident because of it.
To make up for this chink in the armor, buyers will spend more money on prestigious items. Keep that in mind the next time you smell cinnamon aroma and get the urge to treat yourself to something pricey.
Yes, your mind is playing tricks on you.
You may not even know it, but the moment you walk into a store you’re being challenged to a mind game.
Perform a cart check.
No, it’s not your imagination: Shopping carts are bigger now. They actually seem to be getting larger by the week.
The reasoning behind the cart’s increased girth is probably sneakier than you might think. It makes sense that stores that offer bulk purchases have larger carts, as their size is more accommodating to bigger pieces of merchandise. However, that’s not really what the size change is about.
When it comes down to it, this move is all about increasing the bottom line. Buyers may feel inclined to fill the oversized cart, resulting in more cash spent.
Here’s an idea: beat the retailers at their own game by using a shopping basket.
The type of change you get can tell you a lot.
Pay attention to how the cashier hands you back your change the next time you pay for something in cash. Chances are, the store employee will count out the bills as they are placed in your hand. No, he or she isn’t just proving that you were given the accurate amount back. Instead, this is a technique used to encourage buyers to spend their money.
Retailers know that shoppers are more likely to drop a few extra bones when they are carrying smaller bill denominations. How are they so sure? A 2009 study in the Journal of Consumer Research from University of Maryland researchers looked into the “denomination effect,” which holds that people are more likely to spend cash when they have it in smaller denominations.
Cashiers politely remind you of the type of cash you have by calling attention to each bill individually when handing back your change. This is done in the hopes that the next time you stop by, you’ll remember the small bills and have less issue spending money.
The sample station may be deceiving.
It’s pretty common knowledge that stores don’t create sample stations to give customers free food out of the goodness of their hearts. Rather, these highly trafficked stops have ulterior motives.
Your first guess as to what these sinister-sounding reasons may be is probably correct: to encourage shoppers to purchase the showcased items. There’s another reason, however, that probably isn’t so obvious.
This technique is used to help shoppers slow down. You’ve heard the saying about stopping and smelling the roses? The premise here is similar.
Store executives want their customers to slow down, look around, and take in their surroundings. There’s no better place to do this than at a sample station. And by placing many throughout the stores, the stations expose customers to different areas they may not have paid attention to otherwise.
You’ll do well to remember this the next time you visit a station that is conveniently located next to high-priced items you suddenly wish you had.