Watch out the next time you go shopping: The retailers tricks to make us buy more

Take a brief look around your house. How many products have you bought impulsively that you have never or rarely used? Why did you buy them in the first place? Buyer behavior is a fascinating subject and the truth is that our unconscious mind is often the one in control in this matter. We can actually blame evolution and our parents for our impulse purchases - if we inherited the Fear of Missing Out from our ancestors as well as the biological drive to accumulate objects that look like daily essentials, our parents taught us that new things are supposed to make us feel good.

Store owners, marketers and merchandisers know exactly how to take advantage of our minds to trigger impulse behaviours. Stores are strategically mapped to make us buy as much as possible and not even that calm music in the restaurant or the socks near the check out area in a fashion store are a coincidence.

Here are 5 tactics that make us buy more when we go to the shopping mall:

The atmosphere

Sensory marketing is key in brick and mortar stores to make us buy impulsively. Music is one of the longest-standing techniques stores have used to get us to spend more - in restaurants slow music is used usually at night to increase high margins through the purchase of deserts and cocktails.

The smell of bread in the supermarket is also not a coincidence. In clothing stores not only music but also the lightning and touch are highly relevant. Stores normally use white lights and minimalistic furniture to make the clothes and accessories more attractive. The atmosphere of the store influences our emotions making us spend more time and money.

The Sales Person

If when we buy online we are mostly influenced by our peers, when we go to a store we normally have to interact with a sales person. Someone highly trained to make us feel the gap between what we have now and how ideal our self would feel with that product that he/she is showing us at that precise moment.

The store layout and product placement:

More expensive products are usually at our eye level. Cashiers are always placed in a way that we have to revisit all the store to pay. Essential items are in the furthest point to the door. Lower priced items are expected to be around the cashiers to make us remember that we might need an extra pair of socks. Retailers make it easy for men by placing the fitting rooms near their area since there’s a 65% chance that a man buys an item after he tries (for women the probability is only 25%).

The competition

Have you ever wondered why there are only a few items displayed of each product? Have you ever feared not finding your size after waiting a couple of hours to buy a pair of jeans? Fast Fashion stores are experts on promoting the fear of missing out. It’s all about supply and demand - by manipulating us to believe that there are very few items in stock, we obviously perceive scarcity which activates an unconscious feeling of competitiveness with diminishes our rational thinking.


As part of the human nature, we gravitate towards perceived value, which retailers can create with bulk promotions and discounts. These tactics are the perfect way to fight our cognitive dissonance - we normally feel bad before buying something we don’t actually need, but if something has a discount we will feel the fear of missing out and we will feel that we are actually saving. Even if we are buying something completely useless. Retailers take advantage of this. We get the impression that a promotion or free stuff must be good value, and we go with this feeling rather than researching any further.

So, next time you go shopping pay attention to all these factors and you will get amazed by the amount of little tricks you can find. Another, interesting fact is that most of the impulse purchase strategies are targeted to women since they are more impulse buyers than men. While men are instrumental by nature - therefore, they go a store with the intention to spend minimum time - women are more curious and more susceptible to these little tricks.

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