Understanding What Makes You Buy & How Retailers Get You to Buy MORE

January 19, 2016

Retailers spend billions of dollars to understand what makes you buy something as a consumer.  Understanding the psychology behind our shopping behavior can help make you a savvier shopper.

Why we buy

For a lot of folks, shopping is more than just buying something you need.  It actually improves your mood.

“Picks me up when I’m down,” shopper Leslie Martin told Consumer Wise host Angie Moreschi.

Psychologist Dr. Harold Shinitzky, who is he author of several books on behavior, says there’s a reason you feel that way.

“When someone goes shopping there’s this wonderful release of endorphins and dopamine,” Dr. Shinitzky said.  “It just feels good!”

Retailer Tricks to Increasing Buying

Retailers know this and spend billions to figure out how to maximize your experience so you’ll buy more, for example, the layout of a store.

“Where the more desired products are on the far side of the store, so you have to see distracting things, that might increase your probability of purchasing,” Shinitzky said.

Online search tools like Google track you and create pop-up ads to fit your interests.

“It’s kind of big brotherish, but that’s where the money’s made these days,” shopper Eric Long said.

“I think it’s annoying and I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” another shopper, Cassandra Earle, said.

Appeal to Your Senses

Another thing retailers do to entice you to buy more is appeal to your senses.

At a grocery store, for example, when you walk into the fruits and vegetables section, there is high intensity lighting to make the products shine more.  And they spray water on them to make them glisten, so they look more appealing. Then, you might notice you’re funneled through the flowers section and bakery, both of which create lovely scents to tempt you.

“All of this is to draw you in for your senses, all five of your senses; and the more they can stimulate, the more likely you are to feel good about the environment and purchase more,” said Dr. Shinitzky.

Smart Phone Tracks Buying Habits

More and more the tool of choice for tracking your buying habits is your smart phone.  Location services and all those apps you download give retailers a window into how you shop.  Besides what deals you click on, it also can tell researchers how long you linger in a certain location. The longer the so-called “dwell time’ as they call it, the more you tend to buy.

“When someone passes 40 minutes of spending time shopping, that’s the point where we start seeing 50% of all of their impulse purchasing,” Dr. Shinitzky said.

Binge Shopping

Shopping can become addictive, so be on-guard for warning signs.

“Purchasing things you don’t need, didn’t want, can’t afford… you need to really take a hard look at your decision making,” Dr. Shinitzky said.

Take this insight into why you buy and how retailers try to get you to buy more and use it to empower yourself, so you can avoid impulse buying and buyer’s remorse.

*Angie Moreschi is the Consumer Wise Reporter for Bay News 9 in Tampa and News 13 in Orlando*