We have all gone shopping to buy just the most essential items but have ended up buying an insane number of items that we didn’t originally plan on getting. You might think the fault is on you, and although you prepared yourself to avoid the unnecessary buying, you still ended up with a cart full of goods. Truth is, it is not your fault. Shops use clever strategies to get you to buy more than what you thought you needed. Here is a list of 10 clever strategies that businesses use for their utmost benefit. By being aware of these strategies, you can reduce your spending.
1. Mirror Manipulation
Clothing stores use a special mirror that makes you look thinner while trying on your clothes. They also use slightly tinted lighting in the dressing rooms to make you look blush and healthy.
Have you ever gone home with clothes you bought in the store and realized that they weren’t as flattering as they seemed in the fitting room? Well, the reason is fitting rooms are equipped with a special type of skinny/thinning mirror that makes you look at least five to 10 pounds thinner than what you really are.
These mirrors are slightly curved unlike your regular flat mirrors at home, and shops use these mirrors to deceive the customers into thinking they look slim. When the customers find themselves looking attractive with a particular outfit on, it encourages them to buy it.
A study found that 88% of customers who used the “skinny mirror” made a purchase compared to 73% of customers who used a regular mirror. They also combine this strategy with slightly tinted lighting in the dressing rooms.
These lights make you look blush and healthy and make your skin look flawless. The lighting is positioned in such a way that the shadows fall at the right places, thus adding to the slimming effect. (1, 2, 3)
2. The “Illusion of Scarcity”
When people feel that commodities are low in stock, they tend to feel that those commodities are more valuable than the ones that are available in abundance.
If you find that something you are eyeing is low in stock, you are more likely to buy it immediately than wait and ponder over it. This is called the “illusion of scarcity” which gives you the sense of urgency that overrides your careful purchase plans.
In a study conducted in 1975, 200 people were shown two identical cookie jars. One of them had 10 cookies in them, while the other had only two. Interestingly, the cookie jar with the least number of cookies was voted the most valuable.
Therefore, it was shown that people estimate the importance of an item based on its availability. A limited-edition or low stock creates an impression of high demand with the consumers and thus drives you to purchase that item in the belief that you might not find it again. This is one such way that companies fool you into buying items. (source)
“Vani-sizing” is when clothes are made bigger, so we assume that we fit into a smaller size. This naturally affects your willingness to buy the product.
Similar to mirror manipulation which makes you believe you are thinner, clothes are also manipulated to make you believe the same thing. Several clothing stores out there use vani-sizing to manipulate customers into buying their garments. Vani-sizing is when brands make bigger clothes but tag it a size smaller.
This process makes the customer believe that they fit into a size smaller than what they’d usually buy. Shopping is as much an emotional experience as it is a logical one. When you are made to believe that you can fit into a smaller size, it reinforces your need to buy it. Advertisers use this method to create size envy and motivate us to buy it. (1, 2)
4. Store Layout
The store layout is usually set in such a way that it forces people to wander around and see more things which can tempt them to buy more than what they initially planned to buy.
We have all heard of the mind-boggling fact that 90% of the people turn right when they walk into a store. Similarly, experts have put in many hours of work to determine other such human behaviors to use the best results for retail. The store layout is designed in such a way that it guides you throughout the store while forcing you to scan almost every shelf. It’s almost maze-like with only one way out.
For example, the most essential items like dairy products, eggs, meat, etc., are placed at the back so that you are exposed to all the products available and are tempted to buy some extra items. Bakery items are kept in the corner beyond the entrance so that it stimulates your salivary glands and makes you hungry.
The hungrier you are, the more food you will buy. Another example is the register counter where chocolates and candies are placed. This is the most profitable area of the store since customers tend to buy impulsively here. So the best bet for you to overcome these tactics is to have a shopping list and stick to it. (1, 2)
5. Decoy Pricing
Decoy pricing is a method that brings in the third item just to boost the sales of an expensive item. This item is usually priced in such a way that it makes one of the other options much more attractive.
Decoy pricing is a cunning strategy that brands use to get you to buy a more expensive or profitable product. For example, brands introduce the third product between two options so that it influences you to buy the higher-end product. This decoy product is not intended to sell, but only to boost the sales of a high-end model. The decoy effect also helps nudge customers away from their competitors’ brands.
To understand decoy pricing more accurately, consider three popcorn bag sizes available. The small one is priced at $4, the medium one at $8, and the large one at $8.50. In this case, if you spend just 50 cents more, you can get the larger bag of popcorn. You are tempted to get this option because it’s a bargain!
But, if you do so, you have just experienced the decoy effect. By placing another item at an asymmetric value, the brand has forced you to go for the more expensive option, and the decoy has manipulated you into believing that you made a rational and informed choice. (source)