10 tactics stores use to make you spend more money

Sales tactics not to fall for 

10 sales tactics not to fall for
10 sales tactics not to fall for
11 Mar 2015

10 sales tactics not to fall for

PHOTOS: Ingimage 


Sales season might be the best time to whip out your credit card, but even the savviest shoppers can fall victim to tactics that exploit their eagerness for good deals. No matter how much self-control you exercise during the rest of the year, and no matter how much you’ve saved on shopping until now, all of your hard work can be negated when you ignore the tricks stores use to make you spend more money. Anyone who’s ever walked into a shop wanting to buy one thing, but emerging with ten, should know what we mean.


So before you go on your next shopping spree, click through our gallery to see the most common and subtle ploys stores use to get at your wallets. 

1. Mood lighting
1. Mood lighting
11 Mar 2015

1. Mood lighting

No one questions the fact that fruits and veggies are placed near the doorways of most supermarkets while meat and fish are located in the back. Natural light makes brightly-coloured fruits look fresher, and more vibrant, while making meat look a little old – hence sticking meat in the back, where the stark white light makes it look freshly hewn. The same concept applies to cosmetics. Haven’t you ever noticed that certain eye shadows and lipsticks look different in the store than once you’re outside (or even at home)? Some stores twist the tactic by using lights that make your skin awful, thus enhancing the need to splurge on expensive foundations. Meanwhile, high-end lingerie stores are often dimly lit to give you a sense of intimacy that accompanies handling lacy underthings. 

2. Fun-house mirrors
2. Fun-house mirrors
11 Mar 2015

2. Fun-house mirrors

Speaking of optical illusions, how about those mirrors? The ones in shoe stores can slim down even the fattest of cankles, while the ones inside swimsuit stores can taper the fattiest waists down to an enviable 23cm. Since it’s impossible to control what kinds of mirrors stores use, it’s always helpful to bring a friend who will either tell it to you straight, or take a photo of you wearing the item so that you can survey yourself more accurately.  

3. Sales assistants who shower you with compliments
3. Sales assistants who shower you with compliments
11 Mar 2015

3. Sales assistants who shower you with compliments

A recent study by AMEX showed that good customer service can make you spend 13 per cent more than usual. And while we’re all for good manners and assistance, we should be wary of sales people who take this principle to the extreme by insisting that you look amaaaaazing in just any item of clothing (especially the ones that cost more).  Sure, maybe we’re cynical ones and they’re just being nice, but when funds are limited, you should learn to accept a compliment without letting it cloud your judgment.  

4. Offering shoppers huge carts and bags
4. Offering shoppers huge carts and bags
11 Mar 2015

4. Offering shoppers huge carts and bags

The general principle for smart shopping is that we should only take what we can carry. It’s like grocery shopping. You can save hundreds of dollars at the supermarket by picking up a basket instead of a cart. So despite how tempting it is, don’t accept those giant mesh bags that retail assistants offer you when you’re shopping for clothes. Say no to the little baskets that the kind sales ladies at cosmetics stores hand you after you’ve acquired a fistful of eyeliners.  

5. Grouping items that go together
5. Grouping items that go together
11 Mar 2015

5. Grouping items that go together

The most effective store displays showcase the complete package rather than just one item. A scarf, cardigan, clutch, beanie, earrings, belt, and sandals almost always embellish mannequins wearing a basic T-shirt. They’re not content to let you walk away with just a shirt. You need to walk away with a renewed sense of style. Throwing an extra necklace into your basket might not seem like a big deal, but it can be the gateway into buying matching earrings, a chic hairpiece, and other random items that don’t match anything else in your closet. 

6. Offering you free stuff when you walk in (or out)
6. Offering you free stuff when you walk in (or out)
11 Mar 2015

6. Offering you free stuff when you walk in (or out)

Cosmetics stores are notorious for this type of tactic. They’ll throw in a free sheet mask or a packet of samples with your purchase, while other stores will advertise some freebie for the people who walk in. Free ice cream! Free cupcakes! And unless you’ve got no conscience, you’ll feel so bad being a freeloader that you’ll make yourself buy at least one thing from the store in return. 

7. Deliberate clutter
7. Deliberate clutter
11 Mar 2015

7. Deliberate clutter

In 2011, the New York Times reported that some stores purposefully make their displays look cluttered to suggest that that the items being sold are popular and valuable. It’s kind of like picking a restaurant. The more people are inside, the more likely you’ll assume that the food is good. A bin fully of messy clothes might be a pain to sort through, but if it’s got a huge “SALE” sticker on it, you might be led to believe that the items inside are better deals than the ones folded neatly in the back of the store. 

8. “10 for S$10”
8. “10 for S$10”
11 Mar 2015

8. “10 for S$10”

Shopping is like kryptonite for basic math. An item priced at S$19.99 seems cheaper than one priced at $20; meanwhile, you’d be more tempted to buy three hand creams for S$3 rather than one for S$1 simply because the label suggested that it’s better to stock up while the prices are down. Which leads us to our next point…

9. “Feel, felt, found.”
9. “Feel, felt, found.”
11 Mar 2015

9. “Feel, felt, found.”

A couple of years ago, tech website Gizmodo published an exposé of the contents in Apple’s secret employee training manual. In case you’ve never been to the Apple Store or interacted with its staff, you should know that their retail service is one of the best – if not the best – in the world. After reviewing the manual, Gizmodo revealed that Geniuses are taught to show empathy using the three F’s: Feel, Felt, Found. This is useful when customers express doubts about a product. Instead of saying “you’re wrong,” the Genius will say that he understands how the customer feels, and that he used feel that way too, but after experience he has found otherwise.

This tactic can easily be applied to things you would buy outside of the Apple Store, such as shoes. For example:

Customer: I like these shoes but everything I’ve bought from your brand wears out after three months.
Sales person: I understand how you’d feel that way. Before, I felt that buying heels from here was a waste because they just break too quickly. But I’ve found that the reason they broke is that I loved them so much, that I wore them everywhere, even on rough terrain that wasn’t suitable for the material. Where will you wear your shoes? Let me show you a pair that can withstand both the office and the road. You can also apply this other product, which is 10 per cent off with every purchase of shoes,  that can be applied to the heel to strengthen it against your environment.

Ta-da, the customer feels as if the sales person is trustworthy and on his side – and perhaps he was mistaken, the product is worth the money after all. 

10. Overpricing and slashing down the price
10. Overpricing and slashing down the price
11 Mar 2015

10. Overpricing and slashing down the price

At a recent excursion to buy home appliances, we learned from a helpful department store salesman that some appliance companies deliberately overprice their shoddy products, so that once sales season rolls around, they can slash the price in half to create an irresistible deal. “Who cares if the build is a little weird,” you’ll say. “It’s discounted from S$1500 to $799! Awesome deal!”  Well, not if the product weren’t worth S$1500 to begin with.

 

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