It’s so easy to go into a store and spend more than you want to. Between impulse buys, so-called sales, and all the other methods that stores use to trick us, we can easily go way over budget without realizing we’re doing it. Grocery stores often trick consumers in several ways, but they are not the only stores that convince us that we need a product that we don’t really need, or trick us into believing that we are getting a great deal when we really aren’t. Although having a list is traditionally saved for grocery shopping, it can be a good practice when going to any store, particularly stores where you know that you will be tempted to buy things that are not necessary. It also helps to know how stores go about tricking shoppers, because most stores are designed to make you spend more. Here are five ways that stores trick you into spending more money.
1. Grocery store tactics
You’ve probably heard the advice that you should never go grocery shopping hungry, and there’s good reason for that advice. It’s natural that we would purchase more impulse buys, and less healthier food, when hungry. Grocery stores also bombard our senses in various ways, including the various smells that we face in the store, the sounds (music), and even the lighting. Although it’s nice to get free food, even the samples are a way to get us to buy more, because usually they tempt us to buy something we hadn’t wanted previously.
Also, the most expensive products are often right at eye level. Sometimes companies even pay a fee to have their products placed in a profitable location in the store. Even a simple sale can be a trick, because sales often encourage you to purchase items you don’t need, or purchase multiples of items in order to receive a discount.
Coupons first came about through Coca-Cola; it’s no surprise that companies know that coupons draw customers. Yes, coupons are a great invention, and everyone should use them when they can. However, even coupons can trick you into spending more if they are not for products you normally buy. While a box of art supplies on sale for three dollars cheaper than normal might be a good deal, if the box will just sit in your basement, it’s hardly a good deal. Coupons entice shoppers to purchase items they don’t necessarily need. Some shoppers will even make a trip to a store because of specific coupons, and that alone is a plus for most stores. You have to visit a store in order to spend money there (unless you purchase items online), and once you are in the store, there are many other tempting deals for you to spend money on.
Obviously, most of us want to spend as little as possible to get a quality product. Stores have their own methods for pricing items, and much of their decision is based on psychological pricing techniques. This idea is based on setting prices lower than rounded numbers, because retailers believe that customers will not round up and realize just how much the item is. So, for example, $2.99 for deodorant sounds better than $3. Another tactic is to price items in groups (ten for ten dollars) because that seems like a good deal. Customers can also sometimes be convinced to purchase multiple items because of sales that give you a discount if you buy a certain amount of items. “Buy one get one free” and similar priced items are also affective.
4. Sales and events
Sales are a good draw for customers in more than just grocery stores. Any store can bring in new and extra customers by advertising a big sale. Percent-off sales are especially affective, because consumers feel like they are getting a great deal. These sales can draw even more customers if the percentage off counts towards clearance items. Many stores draw new customers simply by advertising a sale, as do special events or promotional events. Something new, especially coupled with sale prices, will attract customers. This is especially important when there are multiple stores that offer the same products, because customers may choose one store simply because of a sale or event.
5. Reward cards and incentives
Some stores offer rewards cards and other incentives to regular shoppers. This happens at grocery stores, but other stores use this method to get customers to spend more as well. The idea is usually the more you spend, the more deals you get. Many grocery stores have accompanying gas stations, and you can get extra gas points for certain purchases. Retail stores will have rewards or incentive programs where you earn a coupon or reward for spending a certain amount. Even restaurants offer free meals if you eat there a certain amount of times. These tricks are designed to get you to feel appreciated, but they are not all bad. If you regularly shop at a store, these incentives can be a good thing. You just have to make sure you aren’t making extra purchases just to get closer to a rebate or reward.
The point of owning and running a store is to usually make money, so we need to expect these marketing methods. However, that doesn’t mean you need to fall victim to them whenever you go shopping. Make a list, and compare prices regularly, so that you can be sure that when you do pick up an extra item, you are really getting a deal.
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