How to Trick Someone Into Spending More Money
Okay, I obviously meant to have this article out in time for Halloween. But you know, passing out candy to little goblins and ghouls can take up a LOT of time.
So instead the spookies are being extended into November. Because frankly- the psychological tricks that marketers use to sell you more that you could ever possibly need (or naturally want!) are kind of scary.
Let me ask you one question:
When are you being sold to?
Some obvious answers come to mind, like when you're in the grocery checkout line and the shelves on both sides of you are riddled with Hershey's and trashy magazines that grab your attention. Or when your old friend from high school sends you a message out of nowhere that begins with, "Hey hun! Are you looking to make thousands of dollars a month working from home?" (Oh, the terror!).
Most of us are aware that we're being sold to right when we're at the cash register... and that's it. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
For instance, while you're in line at the grocery store, did you consider how you had to walk through the middle of the store and to the very back to get essentials, like milk or eggs? How about the fact that you came here for a $5 chicken are now leaving with a basket full of cereal, chips, and other things you didn't even think you wanted before? In the VERY back of your mind, you MIGHT remember that earlier this month you got a notification from your credit card company for 5% cash back from this particular grocery store- but only until the end of this month!
Sound familiar... in hindsight? Here are 11 different ways that marketers trick you into spending more money- without even realizing it!
We aren't given free samples only in the hopes that we'll like the taste, scent, or feel of something and come back for more. We're also given free samples to initiate a societal exchange. As social creatures, when we're given a gift we're compelled to return the favor in kind. Thus, companies like Costco give out plenty of tiny free samples knowing that customers will take one and then buy the product to "pay back" the nice lady or gentleman at the sample station. It's wired in our psychology!
2. Saving your payment information. You know when you check out online, and a box pops up to ask whether you'd like to save your credit card information "for a faster checkout next time"? I guess in a way it IS to make your life easier- easier to spend money next time! Marketers know that the fewer hurdles that stand in the way of buying something, the faster and more likely someone will be to buy it. That's why when you need to cut back on spending, one of the easiest things you can do is to start by deleting your payment information from the sites you normally shop on (Amazon, Etsy, eBay, etc.).
3. "Charm pricing." Charm pricing is when a company lists an item or service for sale as $19.99 instead of $20.00. Charm pricing takes advantage of our brain's desire to process information quickly. You see $19.99 and some piece of your brain has already rounded the price down to $19.00 instead of rounding it more accurately to $20.00!
4. Subscription services. Have you ever put off cancelling a subscription for at least another month (hey- sometimes another year) just to avoid the hassle or canceling it? That company just sold something to you without even trying!
5. Large carts instead of smaller baskets. If shoppers go to a grocery store and only put a few items in their cart, then they feel like the trip may not have been worth their time. So stores capitalize on this by providing bigger carts altogether. If you shop with a bigger cart, it will take more items in it to fill it up, and therefore you'll see it as "more worth your time."
6. Counter-clockwise shopping. Ever noticed how grocery stores tend to direct you around the store in a counter-clockwise way? The reason might seem a little absurd, but it's simple: most shoppers are right handed. The idea is that if most items are on your right, then you'll be more likely to pick them up and look at them. Selling doesn't have to make perfect sense- it just needs to sell. And apparently this one does.
7. Item association. We've all seen the funny pictures of the condoms right next to the Huggies diapers, but it's a real thing! It's the store's nudge, "Hey, you might need this." The bread can be found close to the butter, even though you were planning on having it with olive oil and vinegar. The beer is right next to the pizza. All of these moves are there to make you think, "Hey, might as well get that too while I'm here!"
8. Belonging to an "elite" group. "If you buy this tequila, you'll have a bunch of fun with your model friends at a beach bonfire tonight." Just... no you won't.
9. Generous return policies. Some stores have found that if they offer return periods of a long time (like 1 year to- forever), people will be less likely to return items at all. After all, if you want to make sure people will do something, give them a deadline, right?
10. Listing more expensive items at eye-level. Were our ancestors really foragers and hunters? It's hard to believe sometimes. Because stores display their higher-priced items at eye-level in the hopes that we'll just grab the first thing that we see (and we do!). Oftentimes, if you're looking for the best deal, it's best to look on the top and bottom shelves.
11. Decoy pricing. Oh man, this is one of my favorites. Say you're thinking about getting a new cell phone. There are 3 different versions of the latest model you're interested in. 1 is $200, the other is $300, and the third is $1,000. You were initially looking at the $200 one, but now that you've seen the $1,000 one, the $300 one doesn't look so bad! Instead of seeing it as $100 MORE than the $200 phone, you're now looking at it through the lense of it being $700 LESS than the $1,000 phone, even if you weren't initially considering buying the $1,000 phone. You're so reasonable!
Small but mighty!
This is just a tiny handful of ways that stores get you to spend more money than you really need to. In reality, there are dozens- if not hundreds- of ways that they "nudge" you in the direction of a sale.
If you're working on reducing your spending, some of this information can be a life saver. You'll think twice before you save your credit card information for an online store. You might pick up the hand-basket instead of the large cart if you were just running to the grocery store for a small item.
Remember, if sellers can nudge your brain in the direction of a sale, then YOU can ALSO nudge your brain in the direction of things that YOU want. But only if you're aware of how different things are impacting you!
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