How shopping sites use psychology to trick you into spending more and 3 ways to avoid them (2023)

  • Online retailers use psychological tricks and tools to entice consumers to buy.
  • Experts told Insider that many retailers often resort to shoppers' fear of missing out, or "FOMO."
  • Retailers have been using these tactics for over a decade. butWe shop online even more.

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Online retailers use psychological tricks and marketing tools to entice consumers to make purchases. Yas online sales have increased during the pandemic, retailers have learned to be more persuasive.

Companies rely more on first-hand data to build personal relationships with customers and convince them to buy. These data will only gain in importanceSocial Media Adsbecome more expensive andInternet-Cookies, which can be used to track users across websites, are being phased out.

Experts who spoke to Insider said that many of the business strategies employed by retailers are based on shoppers' fear of missing out on the latest and most popular products, or FOMO. Offering incentives to add more items to online shopping carts, such as free shipping, is another example of the psychological tricks a retailer can use.

(Video) Sneaky Tricks Grocery Stores Use to TRICK You!

Nike yOn Lululemonaccording to Manini Madia, associate professor ofColombian business schooland consumer behavior expert. The Lululemon app explicitly tells customers how many items are left in their size. In the meantime,Nike uses its SNKRs appto collect information about customers and encourages them to check the app frequently through notifications.

“Nike releases products on their SNKRS app. So you have to download the app, which means you give them your information. They have to turn on their notifications to show you when certain sneakers are going to drop, and they give you a window like 10am. m. on a Saturday morning,” Madia said. “People who are sneaker lovers know that this inventory is going to be very limited. and they are likely to sell out in the first few minutes."

Retailers have been using tactics that close more sales and increase the order basket for more than a decade. butWe are shopping online now more than ever, and those subtle nudges start to feel more pervasive.

“There are many cognitive biases that retailers are aware of and use in shopping experiences. Most of them started in-store and moved online,” said Jason Goldberg, director of commerce strategy at marketing firm Publicis Groupe and an e-commerce expert nicknamed @Retailgeek.

Below are the tricks retailers use to trick you into buying more and tips on how to avoid them.

How shopping sites use psychology to trick you into spending more and 3 ways to avoid them (1)


Discounts in exchange for a cell phone number

It has become more common for retailers to offer customers a 10% to 15% discount on their first order in exchange for an email address and cell phone number.

The option to receive emails and text messages opens the door for customers to be contacted about everything from seasonal deals a business is offering to a reminder of what items are left in their carts.

"Having a cell phone number is probably the most valuable source of communication with a customer right now," Madia said. Emails can be filtered or avoided entirely, but a consumer is much more likely to click on a text.

Some companies use this tactic better than others. The key is not to bombard buyers with communication. DTC companies likewho gives a fuckyovens onlyBuild deeper relationships with customers.

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“Communication must be tailored to the way the customer interacts with your brand,” says Madia. "If they bought a down coat and live in a ZIP code that has four-season weather in the spring, you might want to show them some raincoats and then you'll have a better chance of getting them to complete a transaction."

How shopping sites use psychology to trick you into spending more and 3 ways to avoid them (2)

S3studio/Getty Images

Apple Pay and buy now, pay later

Who hasn't abandoned their online shopping cart because they were too lazy to pull a credit card out of their wallet? Multiple payment options have now been introduced to consumers to simplify the online shopping process.

Buy with a click on Amazon, Apple Pay, and Google Pay may store credit card information from online customers. Buy now, pay later options With Klarna and Afterpay, shoppers can buy items now and set up monthly payment plans.

These checkout forms make the checkout process easier and improve conversion rates for the retailers that use them.

sea ​​aInternal intelligence study and eMarketer, more than half of Gen Z digital shoppers will use a BNPL service by 2022. And the list of industry retailers adding Google Pay, Apple Pay and PayPal as payment options continues to grow.

These services "take the friction out of the last step," Madia said.

Buy online, pick up in store

Buy online, pick up in storeIt was all the rage during the pandemic. Retailers still love it as it saves on shipping costs.

But there is another benefit, says Madia. It's a great way for retailers to increase a customer's cart by bringing them into the store.

(Video) 10 Psychological Tricks To SPEND LESS While Shopping

"You may want to pick up at the store because you want the item faster than it can be delivered," Madia said. "But there's a good chance you'll buy something else while you're there."

How shopping sites use psychology to trick you into spending more and 3 ways to avoid them (3)


The suggestion that an item is in short supply is based on what Publicis Groupe's Goldberg called our "lizard brain."

Much of the way we shop and make purchasing decisions is unconscious, he said, and while you may rationally know that scarcity is a marketing ploy, your subconscious doesn't.

"That was a survival force that served our ancestors very well," he said. "We've probably outgrown the need part of today in many ways, but it's still connected to the neuropathies of our brain."

Examples of this tactic include when a retailer says a product is running low and won't be back in stock, when their website indicates an item is selling out fast, or when they only have items in their shopping cart for a limited time. amount of time it can be. While it may or may not be what Goldberg called "false shortages," meaning that retailers are actually stocking a large amount of the product, there's no question that it's effective.

How shopping sites use psychology to trick you into spending more and 3 ways to avoid them (4)

Gracia Ryback

social proof

Positive ratings and reviews are the most common form of social proof. These provide "proof" that people bought a product before you and got a good result.

But we are increasingly seeing more sophisticated versions of the social proof tactic. Depending on how much data retailers have about you, they can show you when people close to you or even people you follow on social media bought a product and liked it. Then, of course, there's influencer marketing, where celebrities and social media stars are paid to promote products tailored to what their audiences and followers may entice to buy.

"Sometimes the tactic is used to get you confident to buy the product, or sometimes to get you confident to pay that price for the product, or sometimes to choose that size for the product," Goldberg said. "It tells you that this is very popular and you should definitely buy it."

(Video) How Online Shopping Trick You Into Spending More Money

Was/is setting prices

We've all seen it when shopping online and in stores: a product has two prices listed, a higher price crossed out, and a new lower price.

This tactic, called was/is pricing, is designed to let buyers know they are getting a good deal or, in some cases, to trick them into doing so.

"There's an ethical version of this that's actually going on, and then there's an unethical version of this," Goldberg said.

This type of pricing is common at retail outlets, he said. In an ethical example, a product that was originally $100 ends up at an outlet store and is reduced to $30; It is a good business. But an unethical example would be when a product made just for one store and priced at $30 is given the was/is treatment, making you think you've gotten a bargain.

Tips to Avoid Retail Marketing Tricks

Just being aware of these marketing tactics isn't enough to protect yourself from them, Goldberg said.

"What you can't do is just say, 'Oh, I'm smarter than marketing and I'll know, so I'll avoid it,'" he said. "What you can do is develop new habits that make these tactics less effective for you."

Goldberg recommends giving yourself a "cool down" period after adding items to your cart, even if it's just a few hours. Separating the add-to-cart process from the checkout process should help you make a more rational decision, he said.

Another tip: don't be fooled by discounts and provide your contact details to companies. That invites more targeted marketing, which can lead you to spend more.

Madia also suggested signing up for subscription and savings options on sites like Amazon for products you buy frequently.

(Video) Sneaky sales tactics: The ways stores trick you into buying more and how to avoid overspending

"That way, you won't be constantly going to Amazon, Target or other sites that might prompt you to make an impulse purchase," Madia said. "If you subscribe to paper towels, you don't have to go in and complete a transaction where you could add other items to your cart that you might regret later."


How do stores trick you into buying more things? ›

They Put More Profitable Items at Eye Level

Stores often put items with the best price margins at eye level so you see the products easily. Items that are better buys for the customer -- and therefore not as profitable for the retailer -- are more likely to be found at the bottom or top of aisles.

How does shopping relate to psychology? ›

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2014, for example, indicates that making purchases helps people feel instantly happier—and also fights lingering sadness. One reason, the study authors speculate, is that making purchase decisions confers a sense of personal control and autonomy.

What are some of the psychological tactics that businesses use to get you to buy their products? ›

Consumer Behavior Basics
  • Tactic #1: Understand the Buyer Decision Process. ...
  • Tactic #2: Take Advantage of Impulse Purchases. ...
  • Tactic #3: Utilize the Foot-in-The-Door Technique. ...
  • Tactic #4: Choose Provocative and Powerful Imagery. ...
  • Tactic #5: Know the Relationship Between Colors and Human Behavior.

How do you trick customers into buying? ›

  1. Trick #1: They Price One Product Absurdly High, and Expect No One to Buy it. ...
  2. Trick #2: They Give New Customers Coupons to Trick Them Into Being Happy. ...
  3. Trick #3: Give Away Free Products with a Buy-1-Get-1-Free Offer. ...
  4. Trick #4: They Trick You With Volume Bonuses to Think You're Getting a Better Deal.

What are three ways shopping adds help you reach your goals choose three? ›

Build better consumer experiences, Use data to fuel growth and Drive traffic and sales are the three ways, The shopping ads help you reach your goals.

What are the psychological factors that influence social shopping? ›

There are four psychological factors that influence consumer behaviour: Motivation, perception, learning, and attitude or belief system.

How do shops use psychology to influence buying decisions? ›

That fleeting feeling of pleasure can sometimes lead to the onset of a shopping addiction. This can happen when a consumer wants to continuously experience the feel-good "hit of dopamine", so they fall into a pattern of buying more and more items until it gets out of control.

What are psychological facts about shopping? ›

Online shopping has been found to give a dopamine boost, as it is released into our brains when we anticipate pleasure. So while we wait for our purchases to arrive, we tend to feel more excited than if we had bought things in store. If this pleasurable feeling is well managed, then there is no harm in it.

What are 3 psychological pricing techniques? ›

The different types of psychological pricing include: Charm pricing and odd-even pricing. Slashing the MSRP. Artificial time constraints.

What are the 3 types of buying decisions faced by businesses? ›

The three types are nominal decision making, which requires little to no search for alternatives; limited decision making, which requires some but not much of a search for alternatives; and extended decision making, which requires extensive evaluation of alternatives and post-purchase evaluation.

What four psychological factors influence a customer's purchase behavior? ›

The key psychological factors to understand when considering consumer behavior are motivation, perception, attitudes and beliefs, along with lifestyle. Understanding these factors will assist any marketer in understanding the behavior of their consumers in order to successfully appeal to them.

How do grocery stores make you buy more? ›

Supermarkets spur impulse buys of everything from candy bars and full-calorie soda to hand sanitizer and gift cards by displaying them at checkout, where customers must stand in line. Checkout boosts sales so much that manufacturers pay big money to get retailers to place their products there.

How do grocery stores trick customers? ›

Impulse items near the register

Every cash register is lined up with candy, soda, magazines, and other tiny items you would never think to pick up. Grocery stores place easy-to-grab items near the register as impulse items so you can quickly add them to your cart. Even Costco will get you to shell out your money!

How do shops encourage impulse buying? ›

They can inform customers about the scarcity of a product, offer free samples or trials, and give money-back guarantees to encourage impulse buying. Promotions. Sales promotions like BOGO encourage customers to buy larger quantities.

How do brands exploit impulsive buying? ›

Impulsive buying means making an unplanned purchase. It is based on an irrational thinking. Marketers try to tap this behavior of customers to boost sales. There is a great likelihood that customers end up making a purchase of products after entering the hypermarket without any actual intent of doing so.

What marketing tricks do grocery stores use? ›

Supermarkets use various marketing strategies such as loyalty programs, sales promotions, product placement, and targeted advertising. These strategies aim to attract customers, increase sales, and improve brand loyalty.

What is supermarket psychology? ›

Scientific research has demonstrated that our decision making becomes more impulsive and emotional after a certain period of time in a supermarket. So not only does this longer amount of time in the supermarket mean we're likely to buy other things, it also means the quality of purchasing decisions diminishes.

How do stores like Walmart make their prices so low and profit? ›

Sheer volume of sales

Walmart sells more of just about everything than pretty much any other seller, and it sells many products for less than anyone else. Taking that into account, Walmart could make more money even if the margins are smaller.


1. How Stores Trick You Into Buying More Things
(The Atlantic)
2. 9 Sneaky Tricks Stores use to Trick you into Buying Useless Things
(Practical Wisdom - Interesting Ideas)
3. 15 Psychological Marketing Triggers to MAKE PEOPLE BUY From YOU!
(Adam Erhart)
4. 3 Ways marketers use psychology to TRICK YOU to buy. Spend money wisely; save money in stores.
(Outsmart Your Money)
5. 15+ Marketing Tricks Each Store Uses
6. 3 sneaky tactics that websites use to make you spend | Your Money and Your Mind


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