Ever suffered from buyer’s remorse? You’re not alone.
According to a recent survey, only 5% of people have never felt guilty about buying something. That means the majority of us, at some point in our lives, have regretted a purchase.
But consumers aren’t necessarily only to blame for impulse buys. After all, we’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing tactics specifically tailored to try and get us to spend more money.
Today’s graphic by TitleMax explains 29 different psychological tactics that marketers try to get consumers to buy more.
Tricks are for Marketers
While this list isn’t exhaustive, it provides some key examples of the ways that marketers are attempting to influence your subconscious mind.
We noticed some high-level trends among the 29 tactics, which we compiled into four overarching sections:
- Visual Pricing Tricks
These tricks aim to intentionally minimize the appearance of the price, so it’s more palatable to consumers. For instance, a store will price something at $9.99 instead of $10.00, or label a product as “buy-one-get-one” rather than 50% off.
- Intentional Language Tricks
It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Making products seem costly to manufacture, offering exclusivity, and using words associated with small amounts fall under this category. These tricks use semantics to position a product in an appealing way.
- Brick-and-Mortar Tricks
A store’s layout is less arbitrary than you may realize. Having a bright and colorful entrance, playing calm and slow music, and putting the essential items at the back of the store are a few tactics that fall into this section. These tricks use displays and product placement to influence consumer behavior.
- Urgency Tricks
A false sense of urgency and phase-out discounts are included in this category. If a consumer believes they might miss out on a deal, they’re more likely to buy.
The Theories in Practice
While most retailers are guilty of using at least a few of these tactics, several big companies are notorious for their use of psychological tricks to boost sales.
For instance, Ikea is well known for its confusing, maze-like layout. This is no accident, as an Ikea store’s architecture is designed specifically to maximize product exposure—it’s mastered what’s called the Gruen effect, a term named after architect Victor Gruen, whose elaborate displays were proven to convert browsers into buyers.
Another example is Walmart’s rollback pricing, which uses visual contrast to make the sale price more appealing. It’s clearly served the company well—in 2019, Walmart made $524 billion in revenue, making it the world’s largest retailer.
Costco uses a few tactics on the list, but one it’s notorious for is putting fresh produce in the back of the store. That means customers need to pass through the electronics, clothing, and household goods sections before they can get to the necessities.
While the above tactics are in a gray area, other tricks are flat out dishonest. Makeup brand Sunday Riley was caught writing fake Sephora reviews to boost sales. Employees were encouraged to write outstanding reviews for the company, and the CEO even provided instructions on how to avoid getting caught.
The Influencer Era
As consumers become aware of certain marketing tactics, retailers are forced to switch up their game in order to remain effective.
A relatively recent phenomenon is influencer marketing, which is when brands partner with vloggers or influencers to endorse a product. And these partnerships tend to work—a recent survey revealed that 40% of people have purchased something based on an influencer’s recommendation.
But how long will influencer marketing—or any of these tactics—stay effective? Some of the more subtle pricing tactics might stay relevant for longer, but it’s unlikely that all of these tricks will stand the test of time.