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Psychological Tricks: Consumer Shopping Behaviors that Influence Selling through Psychology

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5. A store's goal is to keep you in a store as long as possible, and look at as many shelves as possible. The longer you stay, the more likely you'll buy.

They begin with priming and then hitting you with colorful things.

4. People cannot resist shiny things.

It's part of our lizard-brains.

3. Shopping gets people high.

Dopamine is also the gatekeeper to rewards and punishments, a system it uses to motivate us to, among other things, explore, learn and acquire new stuff.

It's actually anticipation of purchase that gives us the fix.

2. People are terrible with numbers.

So pricing something with a 99 works, as does price anchoring and decision traps.

1. Brand loyalty can trick peoples' tastes using emotion.

Basically you're involving separate areas of the brain, one that recognizes sensations (like taste) and another that does thinking and categorization (like remembering which brands make the good stuff). The second one can override the first, if you create a positive enough association with a brand or label.

Scientists figured this out by redoing the Pepsi challenge with the added fun of an MRI machine scanning volunteer's brains.

Thankfully, science went even further and found a solution. According to another study, those with damage to their ventromedial prefrontal cortex (brain chunk related to emotion) lose their brand loyalty and actually pick Pepsi even after seeing the labels.

Pepsi plus an MRI machine does seem like fun.

It's really important to learn about Priming:

When's the last time you bought flowers at a grocery store? Never? Yet when you walk through the door at most grocery chains, what's the first thing you see? Flowers.

The idea behind the flowers is that, as we've touched on elsewhere, hitting you with a product that is highly perishable yet fresh will "prime" you into thinking of freshness, and that you will carry that "freshness" mindset with you all the way back to the discount meat case. It sounds like bullshit -- humans don't connect completely unrelated ideas like that, right? Yet it's confirmed pretty much every time they test it.

Sometimes "priming" is as simple as finding that people will keep a room cleaner if it smells like disinfectant -- that subtle reminder is enough to make people think, "This is a clean room, I should keep it clean."

Wait, it gets stupider than that. In yet another study, researchers set up a devious experiment where students accidentally bumped into a klutz on the way to the session. Their bump partner held either a hot or a cold drink, which he or she asked the unknowing patsy to hold for a second while they collected their shit. When the students actually got to the study, they were asked to rate a hypothetical person's personality. The subjects who had held an iced tea earlier were more likely to call the fake persona "cold" or "selfish" than the students who held a cup of hot coffee. Some base association with cold and warmth at the subconscious level was enough to affect their conscious judgment.

So the next time you see an ad on TV, take a moment to notice the show or scene preceding the ad. Because advertisers are paying more for placement that will prime the viewer. For instance, OnStar ran ads for its emergency vehicle service during a commercial break that came right after a car crash scene in The Bourne Supremacy. It was worth it, because studies show that that little bit of priming makes people twice as likely to buy the product.

Priming works. Even when you recognize the priming.

What our neighbors buy affects what we buy, as does our names, the weather, and the type of floor a store has.

Music manipulates us into spending in flower shops and restaurants.

Which products are next to each other on the shelf influences what we buy. In fact, one product can catch "cooties" from another.

Attractive salespeople mess with our heads too, especially if they touch the products. Truth is, we're more satisfied after buying from good-looking people.

Stores use lots of tricks to get us to spend. Limits on how many items we can purchase make us purchase more. So does stocking fewer items.

The word sale makes us less likely to comparison shop and yellow tags fool us into thinking we're getting a discount even when we're not.

Retail therapy does work, but being happy can end up sapping our self-control in the face of tempting sales.

Materialism may be connected to unhappiness but buying generic products can reduce your self-esteem.

Luckily there are fast, easy tricks to avoid buying too much and breaking a budget.

The tricks to avoid buying too much are excellent.

In particular, anticipation of the buying provides a lot of dopamine.

Actual buying provides a lot less.

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