How often have you gone to the mall not intending to buy anything, yet you walk out with bags of stuff? If you are like most others, this has happened to you more than a few times. The question is why does this happen? The simple answer is that marketers get us to spend. They spend millions every year trying to figure out the best ways to get us to spend our hard earned money. I am going to walk you through a handful of tricks they use. How many have you fallen for?

marketers tricks

(Photo Credit:Stuart Miles/

Tricks Used to Get You to Spend More Money

Some of the tricks that marketers use to get us to spend are well known, like the “10 for $10” sales at the grocery store. By phrasing the sale this way, most consumers buy 10 even though they really only need to buy one to get the deal. But did you know that:

  • Stores use specific scents and smells in their stores to get you spend? Next time you go shopping, make note of the scent you smell. Most likely it isn’t coincidence that they are using that scent.
  • Next time you walk down the cereal aisle at the grocery, take a closer look at the cereals marketed towards kids. Notice how all of the characters are looking down? This is so that they are making eye contact with kids.
  • Staying in the grocery store, have you ever noticed that every grocery store you walk into, the fruits and vegetables are the first thing you see? The store is laid out this way to catch you intending to be healthy at first and it also lets you justify adding the junk food later on during your shopping trip after you’ve added the fruits and vegetables to your cart.
  • The music you hear when shopping is also researched. If you hear slow music, it tempts you so stroll around and take your time while shopping. If you hear fast paced music, it is meant to get you to rush around and ideally, make impulse buys.
  • The way products are laid out makes a difference too. Higher priced items will be placed next to low priced items to trick you into thinking that the lower priced item is a bargain.
  • Lastly, have you ever noticed that when you buy music on iTunes, you never get the receipt until a few days later? Apple does this intentionally. You get the music but you don’t realize just how much you spent until a few days later.

How to Avoid Marketing Tricks

So how do you combat all of these tricks that marketers use? There are a handful of things you can do to fight back. Here are four that you can start using the next time you head out shopping.

Educate yourself. The more you learn and understand how marketers are getting you to spend, the less likely you will be to fall for the tricks. Of course, you will never know everything they are doing to get you to spend, but the more you know, the better off you will be.

Shop with a list. When you shop with a list, you are less likely to fall victim to impulse buys. I know for me, this tactic works well. When I go shopping with a list – in the grocery store or the mall – I tend to only buy what is on my list. But if I don’t have a list, I end up walking out with more than I planned on buying.

Delay purchases. When you come across something you want, call a timeout. Go home and think it over. This timeout allows us to better process things and most times we realize either we don’t really want the item in question or we completely forget about it. Also see the Exponential Power of Delayed Consumption.

Shop Alone. When you shop with others, you tend to spend more money. Therefore, the key to spending less is to shop alone. I’ve never noticed that I spend more when shopping with others versus shopping alone, but it is something I will pay attention to. At the very least, it’s a good way to us guys to get out of shopping with our significant others!

Final Thoughts

You work hard for your money. Marketers work hard to get you to spend your money without thinking. Take the time to understand their tricks and take the steps necessary do what you can to keep more of your money.

What tricks have you fallen for recently? Do you find you spend more when shopping with others versus shopping alone?

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Comments to Don’t Fall For These Marketing Tricks That Make You Spend More Money

  1. The scent thing is totally true!

    When I was a new graduate trying to land my first job out of college, I had an interview with a company that makes those scents – they even specialize certain scents for hotel chains so you feel more at home / loyal to that particular hotel every time you travel.

    It’s genius from a marketer’s perspective, but you need to make sure to do an emotional check before you buy something – especially if there’s a particularly nostalgic scent in the air.

    Chelsea @ Broke Girl Gets Rich

  2. Good reminder, thanks.

    I simply go less and less frequent to do my grocery shopping. I feel so much time wasted wandering around the stores and then make an impulsive purchase and then return the item. Am looking forward the time when I can order online and get them delivered. The other way is to stick with one store only, don’t bother with cash back or rewards every store is now offering. Doesnt really matter, except wasting my gas. Lastly I found other activities whenever I feel bored and just want to spend time to window shop. So far it works I have noticed less and less plastic bags to store 🙂


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