In a recent article on Yahoo.com, the author revealed 12 tricks that stores use to get you to spend more. Here is the list with an explanation from the article – my comments will follow below:
- Beautiful Ambience – They want you to linger as long as possible, so they create an atmosphere that’s inviting to the store’s target audience. The music, the lighting, the displays are all designed to pull us in.
- Colored Walls – Stores use certain colors according to the audience they’re trying to reach: Younger people tend to like bold colors; older people prefer softer hues. “Universally, a soft shade of blue creates a sense of calm, which makes people want to stay longer,” says Underhill.
- Carpeting – Carpeting subtly directs you deeper into the store by creating a defined path for you to follow.
- Strategically Placed Merchandise – “Some retailers insist on displaying their most expensive items up front. It makes everything else seem inexpensive afterward,” warns Robert Cialdini, PhD, author of Influence: Science and Practice.
- Easy Access – Research shows that if you touch something, you’re more likely to buy it. That’s why products like stuffed animals and candy are placed within easy reach of children at the grocery checkout, and soft blankets or cozy sweaters are positioned strategically on low tables at a store’s entrance.
- Spacious Shopping Carts – A cart frees you to touch more things. “Stores that offer baskets or carts sell more than ones that don’t,” says Underhill. “And when stores increase the size of the baskets, they often find that shoppers purchase more items.”
- Shrinking Products – A “3-pound” can of coffee is now 28 ounces but still costs the same amount. And how about that “half-gallon” of ice cream that’s now 1.5 quarts?
- The Food Court – Of course it’s convenient, but it also keeps you at the mall so you’ll do more shopping.
- Milk In the Back – Supermarkets typically put the quick pickup items of milk and eggs way at the back of the store. This forces you to go through the store, exposing you to all kinds of other items that might grab your attention. What was supposed to be a quick stop for milk turns out to be bags filled with other stuff you couldn’t resist.
- Cosmetics Near Shoes – Retailers know that while you’re waiting for the clerk to bring shoes to try on, your eyes will wander. Those two minutes are highly profitable, says Underhill, because many women will wander over to cosmetics afterward. And the more mirrors on the counter, the more likely you’ll be to buy.
- Helpful Salespeople – …according to Underhill, “The more shopper-employee contact, the greater the average sale.”
- Clever Wording – Stores count on the fact that most people assume words like “Special!” or “Hot Deal!” mean the same as “On Sale!”
Here is my experience with these tricks…
Beautiful Ambience & Colored Walls – I don’t care! The paint color doesn’t make me want to stay in a store longer. I guess I would stay a little longer if they were playing Thelonious Monk or Oscar Peterson or someone like that! I hate shopping unless it’s for gadgets (something my budget doesn’t allow for right now), so I’m not staying any longer than I have to.
Trying to Change Your Focus – Carpeting, Strategically Placed Merchandise, Easy Access, Milk in the Back, and Cosmetics Near Shoes all fall into this category. The store is trying to stop you from focusing on what you originally wanted to buy, so you can focus on the overpriced stuff they want to sell you.
Having a list is a very easy way to fight against this trick. You can also pay with cash and only bring enough in the store to buy what’s on your list.
Shrinking Products & Clever Wording – The easiest way to avoid falling into this trap is to look at the unit price of an item – if you are in a grocery store. Another thing to do is to know the regular size and price of each item on your list. Then you will know if the sale is actually as wonderful as they claim!
Food Court – There is an unwritten rule among savvy grocery shoppers, that you don’t go to the store hungry. This really should be extended to include anytime you leave your house and your aren’t going out to eat! Food courts always contain overpriced (and often unhealthy) food, and they should be your absolute last option when eating.
I try to keep a granola bar or something on me at all times, so I can avoid this temptation. This helps me to not spend money at the food court, and also get me out of the mall before falling for one of the other tricks mentioned here!
Helpful Salespeople – If you are focused, have a list, and know exactly what you are buying, then just kindly dismiss these “helpful” associates as fast as you can.
If you actually need help with something, be sure to stick to the topic and control the conversation. If you are not an expert on the subject, then be sure to take someone with you who is – or at least do extensive research before walking into the store.
Spacious Shopping Carts – Again, being focused, carrying a list, and only bringing enough money to cover that list, are all surefire ways to avoid filling up an extra large cart or basket.
Another trick that you will always see is the infamous “10 or $10” sale (or any other combination). This was actually mentioned in the beginning of that article, but it didn’t make the list.
Stores will drop the price of certain items to $1 (for example) and then advertise a 10 for $10 sale. An $8 item that gets reduced to $5 will have a 6 for $30 sale! This causes many people to buy 10 or 6, or whatever they list on the sticker, rather than the one or two that you came in for!
Have you noticed these things where you shop? What tricks have you fallen for? Do you shop with a list (even when it’s not for groceries)? Do you pick up 6 items in a “6 for $30” sale? Do you have any tips for avoiding these tactics?