You're being manipulated on a daily basis, and you don't even know it. Don't feel too bad, though - we all are. Our buying habits are monitored ever more closely by marketers not only to create and innovate new products we'll like, but also to use psychology to get us to buy more things.
Marketers have all kinds of clever ways to entice you to spend money, so we thought we'd enlighten you on some of them. Here's hoping it helps you avoid buying at least a few unnecessary things at the supermarket.
1. Misleading visuals
Food companies and food photographers use all sorts of visual trickery to make food look more appealing. From painting on grill marks to individually placing each sesame seed on the bun with tweezers, they help plump and primp your food to make it look irresistible.
2. Reverse psychology
Some of Volkswagen's ads play with an underlying message of "Sorry, we can't sell you this." Of course, that only makes consumers want it more.
This clever tactic works on just about every customer. The most expensive goods are displayed first and the less expensive ones are then put towards the back. But, even though these items are "cheaper," they're actually still overpriced.
This is often used in restaurants - think about how a bottle of the same brand of mineral water costs different amounts at different restaurants, vending machines, grocery stores, etc. Even though restaurants have a significant markup on the water, they're seen as being more reliable.
Here, we see a car dealership using this tactic in a clever way - since the monthly payments are the same for both cars, the consumer is tricked into buying the pricier car.
4. Decoy pricing
"Expensiveness" is a very relative thing. A decoy-priced product can help make something else expensive look positively reasonable in comparison.
5. Fake price reductions
A lot of customers just see the big, bold "Price Reduced!" tag and don't often remember to see just how big the reduction was. In fact, most customers don't remember the original price, so stores often just "inflate" the price by 20% and then bring it down.
Another example of fake discounts is when you get offered specials like "Coffee and Cake for just $10!" Never mind that each of them costs $5 regularly, the perception of this bargain (especially with complementary items) is enough to entice many an unwary consumer.
6. Size/Quantity reduction
This is a favorite tactic among producers, as it allows them to keep profits the same without raising prices.
7. "Gruen Effect"
Back in the day, shopping malls used to consist of detached, single-story buildings connected by walkways. Victor Gruen was the genius behind the world's first fully enclosed shopping mall, uniting multiple shops under the same roof in a mazelike structure. Inside is a safe, warm, inviting world of its own, with minimal windows or clocks. This causes a subtle form of disorientation in consumers, making them forget the true purpose of their visit and creating greater desire to make impulse buys.
Incidentally, the idea of no windows and clocks is also prevalent in casinos, so that you can gamble away for hours without realizing how long you've really been there (or how much money you've really spent).
8. Big shopping carts
Consumers are likely to spend 40% more money if they use a cart instead of a basket. Bigger carts tend to make you want to fill them up, and supermarkets often place essential items like bread and milk at the far end of the store - making you walk by more products with that big, empty cart until you get to what you need, hopefully resulting in you filling it up with more redundant items along the way.
Anthropomorphism is really just a fancy way of saying we identify more with things and creatures that have human qualities to them. Think about how you give nicknames to your car or speak to your pets as people.
When companies use mascots with human qualities, they know there's a greater chance consumers will empathize with those characters and transfer those positive feelings towards the overall brand/product.
10. Cunning layouts
Supermarket shelves are a hotly competitive space for all those products out there. The shelves in the middle, which are most easily visible to the average shopper, are the "Golden Shelves" reserved for the highly popular, well-advertised brands. Top shelves are usually for slightly lesser-known products, as are bottom shelves.
Bottom shelves do, however, take prime location when it comes to products marketed towards children. These bottom shelves are at eye-level with the kids and are often covered with products featuring highly anthropomorphized (see above) cartoon mascots that entice kids with bright colors and promises of sugary delights.
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H/T: Bright Side