We are really good consumers. We buy when we need a product. We purchase when we want something. We buy when things are on sale. And when an item is free, we are in heaven!
Here’s the thing, stores know how to get us to buy. Unless we know what they do to get us to make purchases and counteract it, we end up with more than we need. How do I know? I’ve seen someone with:
- more than 100 pairs of shoes
- enough shampoo to last for 5 years
- 15 pairs of tweezers
- more than 100 T-shirts
- enough eyeshadow to last for 5-7 years (eyeshadow expires within 3 years)
- and I could go on, but you get the picture
Now if you have enough storage for your items, there’s not a problem unless a product has an expiration date. But if you have items with no home, then you have an issue.
Here are five tricks stores use to capture your attention along with strategies to avoid them. Don’t be distracted by the fact that I used clothing purchases as an example. I could have used food, office supplies, toiletries or any number of other items.
How it shows up: Mannequins wear entire outfits complete with accessories. You go into the store for a pair of jeans. You see the mannequin and think, “Wow! That shirt and purse look terrific with those jeans. I need to buy them too.”
How to avoid: Develop tunnel-vision. When you go into a store, ask the first salesperson to direct you to what you’re looking for. Then thank them (otherwise they will try to upsell you). Go straight to the product and take it straight to the register.
How it shows up: You go to the store to buy a new white shirt. You find the perfect white shirt. That style comes in nine other colors. Furthermore, they are on sale: buy one, get one at half price. Who can resist such a deal? After all, if one is good, five are better.
How to avoid: Have a written list. Declare your goal prior to entering the store, “My goal is to leave with a white shirt that fits well and makes me look good.” Once you have announced the goal, it is more difficult to waver from it.
How it shows up: While shopping, you discover that the shorts you want to purchase are buy one and get one free. You came for one pair of shorts. You don’t need another pair of shorts. You don’t have space to store a second pair of shorts. But “free” is such a great price!
How to avoid: Ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I wear them with? If you answer, “I’ll find something” or “I’ll buy something” then you shouldn’t get them because you’re only adding to clutter.
- Where will I store them? If your drawers or closet are overcrowded, don’t say that you’ll “stuff them in” because that decreases accessibility and increases wrinkles. This in turn leads to extra time for grooming since you’ll need to iron them before you wear them.
How it shows up: Stores count on the fact that shoppers might be tired or overwhelmed. They also understand that many people shop when they are hungry, sad or frustrated. Stores will market items to counteract these feelings. Here is an example: no iron shirts mean that you don’t have to take time to iron them, so why wouldn’t you want one in every color? Feeling overwhelmed or sad, a little retail-therapy will certainly help.
How to avoid: Rather than considering the experience of the purchase itself, think about the consequences when you get home. People who struggle with over-shopping often talk about the “thrill of the hunt” or “the high of the purchase.” But when they get home, they add that store bag to a whole pile of store bags. Then the overwhelm returns because of the amount of clutter. Or they are frustrated because they promised not to shop anymore. A question that you might ask (when you are in the store and prior to the purchase) is “what will I feel like when I get this item home?”
How it shows up: In grocery stores, it’s the endcaps or the items shelved in your line of sight. In bookstores, it’s the book with the cover facing forward. With clothing t it’s the “easy to pick up and buy without trying on” items or the ones that are buy one, get one free. In all of these cases, they are trying to catch your eye and therefore your interest.
How to avoid: In addition to using all of the previously mentioned strategies, you can talk to yourself. Now it can be under your breath or in your head so others don’t wonder about you. But I’ve been known to say to myself, “I’m not here for X, I’m only here for Y.” Sometimes I even say it multiple times to ensure that I don’t get sidetracked.
There are other marketing tricks that stores use to lure you to make unneeded purchases, but we’ll save those for another time.
If there is one word I can leave you with it would be awareness. In order to counteract any marketing, you need to be aware of what the stores are doing to draw you in and how to avoid falling for their ploys.
Be deliberate when you shop. Sometimes that might be having a list and sticking to it. Sometimes it might mean preparing to set boundaries such as the one in-one out expectation or a budget.
Need help organizing your current possessions so you know what you do and don’t need to buy? Minding Your Matters can help you organize home and office spaces. Contact us today!