There’s nothing new about subtle manipulation when it comes to businesses looking for ways to make you spend more than you planned when you walk through their doors. However, stores increasingly make use of modern marketing tactics in surprisingly sneaky ways to ensure you don’t leave without spending as much as possible.
Offer Comparatively Expensive Items
Most people know that the way items are laid out on shelves is carefully designed to maximize sales, but one trick, not every customer thinks of is when two items are put next to each other to make one seem like great value. For example, a $2,500 TV might look expensive on its own, but when it’s put next to a $4,000 TV, it suddenly seems like much better value.
Treat You Like Their Idol (or Sometimes Their Enemy)
Salespeople are trained to have you spend as much money as possible in their store. In more mass-market retail environments, the idea is for them to act like your best friend. Sometimes this even edges into idolatry, and one trick that’s shown to work on both men and women is to have a female salesperson use touch to make you like them. Interestingly, sometimes the opposite works: some designer store salespeople are trained to snub you in a subtle way that makes you want to buy their stuff so that they’ll like you more.
Get You to Sign Up to ‘Clubs’
Newsletters and loyalty cards are increasingly common, and the way they’re branded is important in how you perceive being a member of one. Many stores invite you to join their “clubs” or “membership programs,” which works well on many people. After all, everyone wants to feel like they belong to something, especially if it has the perception of exclusivity. Words like “special” or “private” give a perception of selectiveness.
Drop the $ Sign
This is a fairly simple but surprisingly effective tactic increasingly seen in upscale restaurants. Raw numbers are harder to associate with actual prices, as people are so used to seeing the dollar sign next to items when considering the price. It’s therefore far easier to disassociate actual money being spent and order more items you otherwise wouldn’t have. A Cornell University study concluded that removing the dollar sign from menu prices is indeed effective in making people spend more cash when dining out.
Manipulate Music to Control Your Mind and Body
It’s commonly known that playing certain types of music has a psychological effect on people, not least in the retail environment. What many don’t know is how different types of music can affect shoppers differently. For example, it’s been shown that loud music can make people move more quickly through supermarkets without affecting the amount they buy, creating a more effective conveyor belt of spenders. Slower music, however, works well in restaurants, where the calming effect can make people feel better about taking longer and spending more.
While consumers are progressively arming themselves with knowledge that helps to stop them spending too much money, advertisers and salespeople are also increasingly clever in the ways they manipulate your emotions and perceptions to get you to purchase more. By remaining aware of certain tricks used in stores, shoppers can hopefully avoid some of the traps that leave them with buyer’s remorse later on.