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14 Ways In Which Shopping Places Manipulate You

Updated on 6 January, 2016 at 1:30 pm By

All of us love shopping! And when we go to shopping malls, whether for grocery or clothes or anything else really, we usually come out with bills much larger than we expected! While we love the experience of picking up goods, it is the ingenuity of retail science that manipulates us into buying more than we planned, more than we need.


Read below to find out ways in which shopping places manipulate us into parting with our hard earned money:


1. Shelf strategy

The number one strategy used to sell us variants that have higher profit margins is to keep the more expensive, premium products on eye level shelves and to keep the not-so-expensive products on the bottom shelves. This does two things – some people simply miss the variants that give a better deal AND it makes some people forgo the better deals because they don’t want to be seen as cheapskates, bending down to get something.


2. Smells

Lemons, oranges, coffee and baking smells are everywhere in shopping centers! Not only do coffee shops spray artificial coffee perfumes outside their shops to entice you, the citrus smells in shopping centers fool you into thinking that everything in the shop is fresh. This happens at such a subconscious level, you don’t even realize it!


3. Gender inequality


Reports suggest that 83% of retail shopping is done by women. That is a whopping imbalance! While all of us know women like shopping, women are further manipulated into shopping more and more to a point that Shopping Addiction is a medically recognized Mental Health Disorder. How do they do this? They enticing women into shops by having women-centric products at the entrance. Women are first enticed into a shop and then they end up buying a whole lot of stuff even though they only started out ‘window shopping’. Men’s sections are usually up or down a level and even children’s sections come after women’s sections. This phenomenon is so widespread, even outside modern shopping centers, in rural fun fairs, melas, flea markets and local town markets, most stuff that is sold is for women.


4. Buy 1 get 1 vs 50% off

A lot of deals are structured in a way to not save you money, but to make you buy more. A lot of places will put up a board of ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ instead of saying 50% off. This makes people buy 2 items instead of buying one at half price.


5. Anchoring

In hotels, at bargain places and even at fixed price places, in order to control the pricing at which people buy, expensive things will be sandwiched between very expensive things and cheap things. Most people will buy the expensive thing, because the very expensive thing becomes the anchor in this case.


6. End of the aisle phenomenon for essential goods

Most of the times, we go to a grocery store or shopping center to buy milk, bread, vegetables and other essentials. These will always be kept right at the end of the store and on bottom shelves, so that while passing the store to get these, we end up seeing and picking up a few things on the way.


7. Difficult navigation

Have you ever felt lost in a shopping center, not knowing what is kept where? You are not alone! Shopping centers are built to make you feel lost. Navigation instructions are usually missing and if present, are written in hard to understand, vague ways with small fonts. Again, this is so that you explore more than you need to and end up picking at least a couple of items more than you planned to.


8. Enticing children

Even children are not spared this manipulation. Attractive, expensive toys and food items will be kept on lower shelves. Products that have nothing to do with children – detergents, home essentials – will have deals that offer free stuff for children – making them cry for a particular brand or variant.



9. Candy at the counter

The most amount of time you spend is at the billing counter, in queue. This is where even more, and seemingly cheap, things are sold to you. But these are just impulse buys, meant for both children and adults. From chocolates to sketch pens, condoms and chewing gum, things you wouldn’t really look for or buy as part of monthly grocery, are kept to make you just buy them. Remember, every paisa they get from you is their earning.


10. Slower music

It has been proved that the tempo of music makes you move in tandem – fast music makes you move faster, slow music makes you move slower. Shopping centers deliberately play relatively slow music so you linger around more, you spend more time and eventually end up spending more money.


11. Combo deals

Another great money drain is to offer products in a combo to you. Most of the time, you need only one product out of the combo, but because you are perceptually saving money by buying things you do not need, you buy things you do not need. Go figure. Food places will also club really cheap items like cola and potato fries to make their combo deal seem worthwhile.


12. Trolley sizes

Dieticians have found out that if you take smaller plates and spoons, you actually end up eating less – that is because you serve yourself less each time. The opposite of that is also true. Trolleys and baskets are made much larger than you need. You end up putting in more items than you need in them just because they keep feeling empty.


13. Fresh vs stale

It is not only your money they want, but also to sell of stale or near expiry items. Especially perishables like fruits, vegetables, breads, cakes, etc. will be arranged so that the stale ones are on top or in the front of shelves. The fresher ones will be behind these. Check it for yourself the next time.



14. Packed Dates

Not only shelving, but again, for perishables, there will be a Packed Date, telling you when the item was packed. Sometimes, even if the packed date is of the same day you are trying to buy the item on, the item might seem stale. Why? Simple, they never mention the First Packed Date. It might be an item that has been sitting on the shelves for the last week, just that it gets packed anew every couple of days!


So that is it. As psychology and understanding of human behavior progresses, it is used to manipulate us as much as it is used to help us. Be aware, be cautious and don’t fall prey to these traps. Share this with friends and family to make them aware.




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