Five psychological tricks retailers use to get you to buy more

To a retailer, there is a huge difference between a shopper and a buyer. While it may not seem like it, stores (both online and physical) are engaged in a constant battle to get you to buy. But before they can even begin to win that battle, they need something else – your attention. 


For decades, stores have used an arsenal of psychological tricks to grab your attention and persuade you to buy. While the flashy signs and price cuts may be easy to figure out, here are 5 not-so-obvious hacks you encounter almost every day.


Look This Way

Where you direct your attention in a store matters a lot to retailers. That’s why stores are usually laced with signs, pointing you to the latest deal or newest product. But consider this: retail consultants advise many stores to save their display cases for products with the highest profit margins. That may seem obvious, but it’s not.


We tend to think that stores want us to know about their sales or their most popular products. But many times, they actually want your attention to be focused on products with the highest margins.


Think seasonal products, produce, greeting cards and chocolates, or bottled water. All of these products are usually found at the front of the store, on display, or found at the beginning of aisles (displays called endcaps), and these are the products that stores want you to pay attention to, and to pay for.


Don’t Walk Away

So if the storefront is full of those products, where are the ones you need? Most likely, in the back or middle of the store. This is by design, because it guarantees that you’ll have to walk by products you don’t need to get to the ones you do, increasing your chance of buying them.


Grocery stores are guilty of this sin. Butter and milk are always buried at the back, while produce, cosmetics, boxed meals, and treats take the top spots. On a smaller scale, you may notice that aisles are their own twisted pathways of products. The middle of the aisle is usually stocked with popular items, making you walk in (and walk past) the stuff you don’t need.


Price Links

When stores advertise a big price drop on a product, they are very aware of the types of products people are likely to buy along with it.


In many cases, the prices of those products (called complementary products) go up. For example, if a store advertises 60% off of their winter jackets, they may raise the price of their winter boots, hats, or mitts, because the chances of people buying those go up, too.


Keep A Level Head

Next time you’re shopping, take a look at what’s at eye level. This shelf can actually cost more money for companies to reserve for their products, because there is an actual link between sales and placement at eye level.  Next, go to the kids aisle – you’ll notice that big brands will have stocked their products on the lower shelves instead.


The New Normal

Isn’t it magical on Black Friday when companies are able to lower their prices to a third of what they were and still make money? We sometimes assume that regular price means reasonable price, but in reality, certain products are priced higher than normal, and companies are okay with that.


Think about buying a TV, a product you only shop for once every few years. If there are regular sales, why would you ever buy at full price? Companies will markup new products and not expect to sell many at that price. That way, when they do drop the price, people will buy (thinking they’ve got a deal) when in reality, their markup is still there.





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