Save Money Through Awareness of the Retailer Techniques Used to Encourage You to Spend More In-store

During Christmas and indeed anytime of year, retailers try to encourage their shoppers to spend more time and money within their stores. If like me, you plan on reaching 2015 with some money left in your pocket, then you need to start learning about the sneaky ploys that marketers are using to control your subconscious.



Industry experts have shared secrets with the public to raise awareness of the tactics used against us. Techniques range from subtle things such as soft background music and floor tile sizes, to all singing all dancing in your face displays. Plus, if you haven’t heard about Pester power, its about time you did.


The consumer group ‘Choice’ reviewed a number of shopping centres, in particular looking at their layouts and other methods used to disorientate customers. Tom Godfrey, a spokesman from Choice said “They use every expert from psychologists to architects in a well-planned strategy to try to get you to part with your hard-earned cash.”

What’s more scary, is not only are they using specialists to outsmart us, there are even suggestions of anonymous Wi-Fi tracking also being used. This technology will allow retailers to analyse our trends within their stores to enhance their sales process. Steve Ogden-Barnes a retail marketing specialist commented “You can influence sales to a degree but it takes place several steps away from the shelf itself. It’s a much longer, subtler process that includes ads, social media, friends and family.”

Below I've compiled a list of some of the classic methods used by retailers to get you to part with as much of your cash as possible. Having an awareness of these should help you avoid subconsciously falling for their tactics during your next shopping trip.


Multiple Attraction

Shopping centres compile a selection of services within their centres such as, a Post office, cash machine, banks, beauty salons and hairdressers to give you more reasons to visit.


Customer ChannelingCustomer Channelling

Department stores and supermarkets are usually positioned at opposite ends of a shopping centre, meaning to reach both you have to pass a number of smaller stores. Once inside, stores will also often have (at least to an extent) a series of walkways and escalators that force you to walk in a full circle, passing most, if not all products. Ikea is very well known for this little tactic.



Hollister is a great example for their use of lights to influence their customers. Low, soft lighting is a method used to relax us and make us spend more time browsing when items can’t be so easily seen.


Environment Control

Stores will control our surroundings by encouraging us to do things such as speed up, or slow down. The aim is to make us either feel anxious or safe, which changes our perception of time. Contributing factors consist of things like no clocks, or few windows and regulated temperatures. Scented stores have also been found to make shoppers underestimate the length of time spent within them.



Retailers will lay out their stores in ways to disorientate its shoppers, to cause aimless wandering and unplanned purchases. Typical scenarios such as signs that don’t quite line up, or directions that send you down one route that splits. The aim here is for retailers to confuse you into what they consider as a “fantasy land” where you will more likely spend money.

Lost in the Shopping Centre



Next time you’re at the mall, listen out for the music. Most likely it will be slow and peaceful to encourage shoppers to walk in time with its tempo. Studies have shown that classical music encourages us to consider higher prices, whereas rock and pop music speeds us up to purchase more quickly.


Strategic Layout

A retailer always wants you to spend more time in their store, so you will have probably noticed quick buy items such as milk or tea being at the back of the store. This forces shoppers to walk through the entire store potentially passing other items that attract their attention.


Eye Level is Buy Level

Eye Level is Buy Level

Suppliers will pay big money to have their products positioned at appropriate levels on shelving. Next time you're at the supermarket, check out the middle section where you’re most likely to find the high value, big margin items.


Small Floor Tiles

Supermarkets around the world have been known for using smaller floor tiles in more expensive isles of their store. This technique is to make us think we are walking too fast and need to slow down, the objective of which being to ensure the highest probability of us not missing out on their premium products.


This is just a fraction of techniques used by retailers, so how do we not notice them? Neurologist Dr. Roger Dooley says “as much as 95% of any purchasing decision is made subconsciously.” So if you want to save more money by avoiding the sneaky ploys of retailers, you need to think hard and bring a level of factual information into your decision processes.

The first tip I would recommend to help you regain control of your subconscious whilst shopping, would be pre-planning. Try to research your products and their prices by looking online before you leave home or use price comparison apps in-store to ensure you’re getting the best price. If you are already prone to these techniques, online shopping is a great way to completely detach yourself from the retailers.

Secondly, don’t shop when you’re hungry, countless times I have walked into a supermarket to grab some dinner and walked out with an entire arsenal of items that I believe I might like or need. Simply put, you just wont be able to eat that much.

Pester Power

Lastly, if you’re a parent, at all costs avoid shopping with the kids. Not mentioned as one of the techniques, but one very powerful weapon retailers use is “Pester Power.” This power is within every child on the planet and retailers know if they display products in places where kids can see them, they’ve just created the most powerful sales reps ever. Seldom will you walk out without one of them twisting your arm or bending your ear about that toy or those sweeties.

TOPICS:   Money   Shopping

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