How Retailers Use Psychology to Get You Spending

When it comes to Black Friday shopping, you’re in either one of two camps: crazy shopper intent on getting the best deals and giveaways and willing to stay up all night in line, or you stay home and avoid the day at all costs. If you fall into the first camp, you may be interested to know the psychology behind your urges. The No. 1 goal of retailers is to get you to spend money and they use a number of tricks that prey on your instincts, both learned and natural.

The Addiction of the Deal

Addiction is a complicated disease. No, Black Friday shoppers are not typically addicted to the once-a-year event, but they do display some addictive behaviors. One is compulsion. Black Friday shoppers feel compelled to go out and get the best deals. Another behavior is the enjoyment of a high. Getting a really good deal or even a freebie can give you a high similar to that provided by an illegal drug. Finally, you have impulsive behaviors. When the deals are so good, you may get impulsive about buying and make purchases without thinking.

Hijacking Your Senses

Retailers want you hooked on this major annual shopping event, and one way they do it is by preying on your five senses. You react to smells, sights and sounds in particular ways, and they are ingrained in your mind based on experiences. For instance, when you step into the mall early on Friday morning, you may be hit with a blast of pine tree scent. The retailers want you in that Christmas mood, and the smells of the holiday can do that immediately. Christmas music has the same effect and is piped into stores on Black Friday.

The Thrill of Competition

Black Friday has turned into much more than the biggest shopping day of the year. Thanks to careful advertising by retailers, it has also become a competition. You are encouraged not just to get the best deals, but to beat others to them. Many stores offer freebies for the first 100 shoppers, but to get them, you need to be in line early. In addition, many sales and products are so limited that you have to buy quickly or miss out. Competition is exciting and drives you to buy more. Unfortunately it has turned Black Friday into an ugly scene in which people get hurt, or, in extreme cases, die when trampled by other shoppers.

Showing You Just How Much You Save

Pricing during sales like those on Black Friday is a careful science, as is the way in which the price is displayed. Stores want to show you just how much you are saving, no matter what the new price is. That’s why you will always see a price tag with the original price and the sale price. Getting a bargain is like getting a high. You feel good about saving money, and that makes you more likely to buy, even if you never intended to make that purchase.

Black Friday is a good day to get deals. A lot of people are able to buy more than they could otherwise, but you have to be aware of the way retailers are using your mind against you. By being aware of the psychological tricks retailers use to get you spending, you can become a better and more efficient shopper. Or, better yet, stay home and relax this Black Friday.

There is still hope.

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