Secrets to get consumers to buy revealed

By Michelle Moran
November 11, 2005

Imagine zombie robots endlessly roaming Wal-Mart isles throwing pointless items into their carts. Sound like a whacked out sci-fi movie? Well, that might actually be you! Whether you’re aware of it or not, stores have consumers buying habits almost down to a science. The music you listen to while in a store, the arrangement of the goods on shelves and even the distance you have to walk to find an item affect your shopping behavior.

I have many times found myself walking out of a store astounded by how I ended up spending two to three, even four times the amount of money that I expected to spend going into the store. On one occasion I strolled into a CVS in need of a toothbrush, 15 minutes later I found myself at the register with a copy of Cosmo, gum, a car air freshener and a nifty pen that doubles as a calculator. Finally, fed up with numerous errands that ended up with similar results and extravagant receipts, I took the initiative to investigate every store’s dirty little secret.

Sure, everyone knows about the obvious set-ups in a store: the gum, magazines and cigarettes in front of the checkout counter where you normally have more than enough time to gaze over the winterfresh or that three pack of lighters you somehow justify that you need even if you don’t smoke. However, do you really know that stores rely on about 30 percent of their sales to come from these things called impulse items?

Sneaky store schemes that you might not be aware of include the lowering of products for children so they see the product, and then beg their parents for it, or the unrelated arrangement of foods. Unrelated arrangement of foods could be caramel dip next to the apples, or having crackers in the soup isle. Sure, these items go together but last time I checked caramel dip is not a fruit and crackers don’t come in a can. You must also consider if you were really planning on getting both times, or if you buying the items because the store hypnotized you into thinking that the products are necessities.

Let me break this down, store’s such as Wal-mart, CVS and Acme, just to name a few, think consumers are that predictable and unable to control themselves when tempted with fancy displays or a walk down a long isle full of products, that they can rely on this mindless spending to account for almost a third of their profits.

I feel personally angered by the thought that big companies think they can control people just by the way that they have arranged their store. They will advertise on their commercials that they’re your friends and family. However, they fail to mention that these so-called friendly companies are trying to dig into your minds and wallets in sneaky ways.

Allow me to also clarify that buying impulse items is not a problem that only plagues the female population; men can also be just as enticed by impulse items. While women may be drawn to the makeup isle or hair isle, you can not walk by a hardware section or the TV and video game isle without seeing men drooling over the latest drill, video game release or the new TV remote controller that glows in the dark.

Although now I can’t say that I am a perfect shopper, I can at least say that I am aware of most of the tricks that I am bombarded with on an average shopping errand.

Do you still want to be a consumer zombie?

Maybe you don’t care or you think of yourself as a savvy shopper, but next time your buying drink coasters and a 12 pack of coke in the same isle don’t be so ignorant to think “Wow, what a coincidence.” It’s a setup, and you’re falling into their trap.

Posted to the web by Tim Hague

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Michelle Moran

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