Tricks That Retailers Use To Make You Spend More

By Sanesh Mathew | March 21, 2018

Did you know that retailers psychologically push you to spend as much as possible with their crafty pricing, clever placements, and more such tricks? Here is a list of the common tricks that retailers use to make you spend more.

Tricks That Retailers Use To Make You Spend More

With the festive season around the corner, people are busy running to their favourite retailers to take advantage of their discounts. While discounts are there to lure people to the stores (online or offline), retailers often use a lot of other tricks to make customers spend more than they ideally had planned to.

So, if you catch yourself spending more than your budget, it actually isn’t an accident. Your retailer is psychologically pushing you to spend as much as possible with their crafty pricing, clever placements, and more such tricks.

Don’t want to fall prey to these common retailer tricks? We have listed some of the common tricks that most retailers use to make you spend more. Here goes:

Decoy Pricing

An effective psychological approach employed by retailers to make costly items seem cheap to customers. For example, an item that costs Rs. 1,500 is placed between two other comparable items that cost Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,800. The customer is likely to pick the one that costs Rs. 1,500 and consider it as a great buy. This diversion method is seen in restaurants too, where expensive food items are placed next to the cheaper food items.

What to do? Do your research before going to the store. This way you’ll be making a decision that suits your requirements and not succumbing to the retailer’s tricks.

Open-The-Wallet Items

Haven’t you noticed items like chewing gum, chocolates, magazines, batteries, etc. placed at the checkout counter? You usually don’t need or want these stuff, but you are likely to fall prey to these especially after long shopping sessions. Also, standing in the long queue staring at these items can propel you to pick some. Don’t you agree?

What to do? Ignorance is bliss. Stick to your shopping list and turn a blind eye to these items. Kill line boredom by checking out your Facebook or Instagram notifications. Cool, eh?

Gruen Transfer

Would you believe it if we told you that the design of shopping malls can confuse you enough to increase sales? It is known as ‘Gruen Transfer’ (coined after architect Victor Gruen). Usually, we go to the mall with a list of items to buy. But we often end up getting lost in these big stores, forcing us to go from one aisle to another to look for the stuff we need. This eventually leads to impulse buys. What a strategy, right!

What to do? Keep a shopping list and stick to buying the items in it. Also, you should carry cash, just enough to buy the stuff on your list, with you. This will ensure that you don’t end up buying unnecessary stuff.

Additional Reading: How To Balance Your Income And Expenditure?

The Bag Snare

Every time you walk into a store you are often handed a shopping bag, right? Why do you think they do that? Well, for starters, if you carry stuff in your hands you will end up buying less. But with a shopping bag, you tend to pick more stuff.

With a shopping bag, you often end up buying something or the other even if you don’t want it because you don’t want to return an empty shopping bag. Also, you would prefer having a loaded shopping bag at the check-out counter than a half-empty one. See, the retailers just tricked you into buying lots of unnecessary stuff.

What to do? Don’t take the bag. If you do, what matters is your willpower. Got it?

Dynamic Pricing

This pricing strategy is followed by most online retailers. They offer different prices to different customers. Usually, when you spend time on any e-tailer’s website, they track your search and spending patterns. So, you’ll often get charged a higher amount than your friend for a particular service, especially if you had searched for that particular service numerous times in the past. The price adjustments are usually made in real time.

What to do? Simple! Browse online shopping websites in the incognito mode. Also, don’t forget to clear cookies and log out of your accounts too.

Forced Urgency

If you have been shopping a lot on sites like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc., you would have come across pop-ups like ‘Only 2 units left’, ’15 people are looking at this right now’, ‘last few days left’, etc. Haven’t you?

These pop-ups not only catch your attention, but they create a sense of urgency too. They are trying to make you act quickly and buy the item before it goes out of stock or its price increases. Smart move, huh!

The Denomination Effect

You must be wondering what a denomination effect is, right? Well, it is a type of cognitive bias wherein people are willing to use a lower denomination note than a higher one. For example, you will be more willing to spend Rs. 100 than Rs. 500.

This applies when you’re buying stuff too. For example, if a large bottle of shampoo costs Rs. 500 and the smaller one costs Rs. 150, you are likely to buy the smaller one. That’s why most shops keep more of these smaller items.

Additional Reading: 5 Ways To Save While You Spend

Buying In Packs

While you are at the supermarket, you may find it better to buy a pack of ten or twenty of an item rather than just a single unit. You may think that you are being economical and saving money. But are you really? Think about it!

We think that you are actually over-spending. What happens when you buy in bulk? You end up consuming more of the product than you usually did. So, every month you will be spending more on the same item when buying in packs rather than in singles. You get the drift here, right? Buy the packs when you’re having a party at home or going on a road trip. It becomes an ‘economical’ purchase then. Cool, eh?

Free Sampling

Did you think that the free sample stations in supermarkets are placed at specific points to market new products? Well, they aren’t. Rather they are a part of a bigger strategy. They are placed at specific points to drive your attention towards the nearby aisles so that you will buy items placed on those aisles. Never thought of this, right?

Product Placement – Eye level

Placing products at eye level tend to get attention easily, leading to an increase in sales. That’s why most supermarkets keep their costlier and profitable products at eye level and the cheaper stuff on the top and bottom racks. Eye-level product placements work for kids products such as games, toys, etc. too.

Product Placement – Essential Products

Have you ever noticed that essential products such as milk, grocery, etc. are usually placed at the end of the supermarket? Well, this is a retailer trick to make customers cross all the other aisles before they reach these essentials. So, even if you did not plan on buying other stuff, you will eventually end up picking a few of them as you make your way to the end. Strategy much!

The Discount Trap

Haven’t we all fallen for this trap – ‘buy one get one free’, buy one and get another at 50% discount’, etc.? And we have always believed that we got a great deal, right? Sorry to burst your bubble but it wasn’t actually a great deal! These unbelievable deals aren’t actually, well, unbelievable. For example, with the ‘buy one get one free’ offer, the first one actually covers the cost of the second one. Sad, ain’t it?

Fruits And Vegetables In Mesh Bags

It’s so much more convenient and time-saving to pick up a mesh bag of onions or carrots rather than having to handpick them. Isn’t it? While you may be saving time and effort, you are going to end up paying a lot more money than if you had handpicked them. Besides, these mesh bag items are usually a mix of good and bad stuff. So, you’re basically sacrificing on quality and paying a higher price too. Now, don’t you think it is better to handpick fruits and vegetables?

Additional Reading: 5 Better Ways To Spend Your Money Than Buying The iPhone 7

Online Retailers – App Downloads

Haven’t you downloaded almost all the e-commerce apps out there? Whether you are an avid shopper or not, you would have downloaded these apps. And you would have easily succumbed to some of their sale notifications and bought yourself stuff that you don’t really need. At least we have done that!

Now that you know the different tricks that retailers use to get you spending, don’t fall prey to them. Okay? Know of any other such retailer tricks? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Category: Money Management Shopping

About Sanesh Mathew

A talkative sleepyhead, Sanesh, enjoys watching horror movies, listening to music, reading all things related to personal finance and wandering aimlessly (walking meditation, he calls it!). He refers to himself as a 'simple human being with a rather chaotic mind'.

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