If you feel bad after a compulsive purchase, remember that there is an entire industry dedicated to making us spend money, even when we have no intention of doing so.
Being aware of this will help us to develop – especially now, at the beginning of the year – an adequate balance of our financial objectives and create better shopping habits, says the writer and savings expert Ariana Arghandewal.
“We’ve all had our weak moments when buying and that’s not entirely our fault,” Arghandewal said in his Monday column for Business Insider.
The expert explained that the solution to save more and not fall into advertising traps is to learn the psychological principles behind great marketing strategies and thus beat stores “at their own game.”
The classic tricks
Probably, many already know some tricks that have been used for decades, such as putting music in the halls so that the buyer feels more comfortable and does not spend so much time thinking about the expenses.
The strategic arrangement of stores and supermarkets in specific patterns of foot traffic, offer shopping carts large and intentionally pairing certain products -for example, a cake next to whipped cream- are also other measures designed to “loosen wallets”.
And, although it may not seem like it, the delivery of free samples Not only can they help someone make a buying decision, but more people feel pressured to make the purchase if the sampling space is crowded with potential buyers.
These and other tricks are “mental blind spots” that affect decision-making, book author and specialist Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of a company that offers expert advice on preventing financial disasters, wrote in Fortune magazine.
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The psychology behind the purchase
Picking up on savings expert Ariana Arghandewal, here are four psychological principles everyone can use to cut back on unnecessary spending:
1. Social proof
In psychology, social proof refers to the idea that people adapt their behaviors to emulate other people. This is why influencers and social media are so successful in today’s era.
“I’ve seen this many times: This is how I ended up with a drawer full of The Ordinary skincare products, which I probably won’t be finishing any time soon,” says Arghandewal, who is also the founder of Pointchaser, a guide to earning points, miles. and free flights.
When your social networks are littered with posts promoting the same product over and over again, it’s tempting to give in and buy them, especially when doing so is just a few clicks away.
For shoppers, the key will be to steer clear of these types of posts whenever possible and not expose yourself to product reviews unless you really need them. “Knowing what triggers your impulse purchases is the first step in addressing it,” he says.
2. Anchorage bias
Anchoring bias refers to our tendency to trust the first information presented to us to make a decision. The bad news is that tethering can distort our ability to accurately value a product by focusing our attention on the original price versus the selling price.
Noticing a difference in prices can make buyers feel like they’re getting a good deal, and therefore more likely to shell out their money faster.
“I fell into this trap with an offer from Amex. I made a purchase simply because the discount made it more acceptable to me. But I wasn’t really saving money because I kept spending more on an item than it was intrinsically worth.”
3. Scarcity principle
It’s technically an economic principle, but it explains a crucial aspect of consumer behavior that leads to overspending. Consumers are more likely to purchase items that they perceive to be in short supply. Hence, at the start of the pandemic, hundreds of products sold out in a matter of days.
Retailers use the scarcity principle when they emphasize the limited availability of supplies or launch limited-time offers.
“Remember that most things are replenished quickly and sales will come back. Don’t let a promotion dictate your purchases; instead, schedule the purchase of necessities around the sales,” advises Arghandewal.
4. Aversion to “losing money”
According to this behavioral principle, the negative impact of losing money is perceived as worse than gaining the same amount. For example, it becomes preferable to “win” on free shipping by adding more items to your cart than to “lose” money on shipping.
The aversion to losing money is one of the key reasons why our minds are manipulated by sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, says specialist Gleb Tsipursky.
“Retailers know that our intuitive reaction is to avoid losses, and research shows that this impulse can be up to twice as powerful as the desire to make a profit.”
If you recognize this habit, recommends Ariana Arghandewal, it’s best to reevaluate whether it’s worth the extra expense. “Maybe you don’t need to place that Target order and can instead walk into a store to do your usual $20 purchase,” she said.