How are We Forced to Buy More?

Wishing to spend less is everyone’s personal business: only you determine how to manage the budget, which purchases matter for you, and which ones do not. Still, one cannot ignore the fact that retailers are making great efforts to get us to buy more. Here are some tips to help you buy more consciously, both in online and offline stores.

Remember that really “free” is not enough

You can hardly believe that you can get something in the store for free – after all, each one is made for profit. Nevertheless, the phrase “free” appears regularly – from the scheme “buy one item and get another for free” to “free” delivery.

This also includes free shipping. Many companies offer it when you have collected an order for a certain amount – it can be beneficial if your planned purchases cost exactly that much or if you are collecting an order with friends. But if the amount does not reach the required amount, there is always a risk that you will buy more – and, possibly, in the end, pay more than what was needed for the delivery.

Be careful with limited offers

Another simple trick that makes us buy more and faster is limited offers. They can be very different: discounts for a specific product in the store, which are valid for a short time, or an intrusive pop-up banner with a timer that offers you a discount of 10-15% if you place an order within ten minutes. All of them create a sense of urgency: it seems that if you don’t make a decision right now, you might be missing out on a good deal. As a result, you can buy something that you do not really need or do not really want – simply because you did not give yourself time to think.

Pay close attention to the number

The trick we’re all used to is prices ending in nines, like 3999, 4299, or the classic American 9.99. Why we react so violently to nines is explained in different ways. One theory is that as we read from left to right, the brain pays more attention to the first number – and although 5999 is closer to six thousand, we rate them as if it were five. But its an old trick.

Don’t underestimate the power of calculation

This rule applies primarily to huge grocery supermarkets – although everyone, without exception, pays attention to the layout. Don’t underestimate it: remember how many lanes you usually walk to get to basic necessities like milk or bread – most likely, this was done on purpose so that you would pay attention to other things along the way. Perhaps what products are located in the adjacent rows will also confuse you and seem illogical – the researchers believe that when we get lost, we are more prone to impulse purchases.

It is also important how the products are arranged on the shelf. More expensive items may be laid out at eye level so you can spot them first. Baby items like toys or sweets can be laid out below to make them more visible to the child, who in turn asks their parents to buy them.

Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi / Unsplash

Bigger packaging means more purchases

We are all accustomed to the fact that buying in large quantities is usually cheaper: several packs often get a discount. But in practice, the benefits are always relative: first, you need to make sure that you really use up everything you bought – and do not throw away a huge package of expired yogurts, simply because you are not able to eat them during this time. It is difficult to plan how things will go in a few weeks – you may have to walk a lot to guests or events, and food at home will remain unclaimed. Besides, perhaps you just don’t need that much: if a small can of soda is enough for you, there is no point in buying a more expensive two-liter bottle just because two hundred milliliters, in this case, are cheaper – in the end, you will still spend more.

Loyal customer card

A huge number of retailers offer loyalty cards – this is convenient if you know for sure that you will definitely buy something else in this place. But, as in any business, it is useful to be more careful here: by registering a card by phone number, you will certainly receive regular mailings with special offers and sales – and this is a direct way to unplanned purchases. Besides, a loyalty card can push you to spend more money  – it can be profitable if this is your favorite store, and not very much if you can find items that are no worse at lower prices somewhere.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

Remember that the card is also real money

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of paying with a card compared to cash – regardless of whether you apply the card to the machine at the checkout of a regular store or enter data in an online store, money in our perception often turns into just a number, and not into a real amount taken from the salary. It is not necessary to abandon the achievements of our time and throw away the card – you can just be more careful and remember about the budget.

Avoid autocomplete

One-click payment is, of course, very convenient, but the easier it is to make a purchase, the more chances that the item will be not so important and necessary. This includes auto-filling credit card information, paying through an Amazon account, and buying apps through the App Store – buying something on impulse is so much easier than spending five minutes entering data. Think about what is more profitable in your case – convenience or another tool for self-control.

Anastasia Fetter

Anastasia Fetter