Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have come under criticism for misleading customers in recent times. The allegations are fair, most users don’t realize how their data is being used and how advertising is driving the entire industry. Yet these social media sites really shouldn’t be under investigation for doing their job well and using age-old traditions. Newspapers have used advertising as a key tool for years now and there is not a single industry in existence that doesn’t use some form of surreptitious behavior to get one over their customers. The best example is retail. Let’s take a closer look at the techniques used by retail organizations to get you to spend more.
Mark up, discount down
One of the most common tools used in retail stores is to highlight the items on sale. You may be in a clothing store and not even need a rain jacket but when you see one marked 50% off you think you have to have it. However, if you had gone a month earlier you would have noticed that the item was not on sale but the price wasn’t that different. Many retail stores increase the price and then apply a discount to deceive customers. This predatory behavior is illegal in some markets while in others it is just frowned upon. Whenever you see the price of an item on sale, give it quick google to see if there are really any savings to be had.
Large shopping carts
This is a subtle trick that is now used in most grocery stores. Have you noticed if your shopping cart has got bigger? Most stores have quietly moved to larger shopping carts in recent years. This is a simple trick so that when you finish your shop your cart looks empty. For a moment you will pause and think “I haven’t got much, do I need anything else?” To defeat this trick always try to shop with a basket. It has the opposite effect. You will grow tired of holding the basket and simply decide to pay for what you have and leave.
The dressing room of lies
Have you ever tried something on in a dressing room and marveled at how good you look in your outfit? Ok, it is a little expensive, ok you don’t really need it, but wow you look good. While you may just be having a great hair day it is also possible that you are being deceived. Clothing stores use slimming mirrors to make you look better in an outfit. They angle normal mirrors to make you look longer. They use dim lighting to make you look more tanned. They use every trick they can to make you think you look great. Then you get home only to find out you don’t look great and you miss that excited feeling you had. Where is the only place to get that excited feeling again? By going shopping again, of course.
Have you ever gone to the grocery store for bread? All you need is a loaf of bread but you have to walk all the way to the back of the shop to get it. On the way, you pick up a few more things that you need. Then while waiting to pay, you see a chocolate bar and decide to treat yourself. Suddenly you are leaving with two hands full of shopping bags, but you only came in for bread! What happened? The shop has won you over with the clever placement of goods. They place expensive items at eye level to catch your eye, staples at the back of the shop as they know you will make the journey, and impulse purchases at the checkout to tempt you.