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When was the last time you went shopping and ended up coming home with at least one item that you didn’t really need? Your last shopping trip probably! It is nothing to be ashamed of as most people do this. But why does this happen? Well, the truth is that most shops have a lot of influence over you.
Retailers have expert marketers who are experts at pushing your buttons. When you are walking around the store you will see endless messages trying to persuade you to buy things. This really works and you end up with those things in your cart that you never intended buying. Here you will learn how to shop smarter not harder.
Avoid the Seduction of Stores and other Places
The marketing people that work for the big stores know that if they use your senses to seduce you there is more chance that you will buy something. Examples of this are a jewelry store that uses high powered lighting to focus on rings and watches and fashion stores that cater to teenagers and younger people pumping out loud music to stimulate hormones.
Known as “atmospherics”, many tests have proved that they have a positive effect on buying behavior. People like the experience that atmospherics bring so they tend to stay a lot longer than they normally would and this increases the chances of spending more. Now that you know about this you can counter the seduction of atmospherics.
Know your Price References
When you buy a product over and over again you form a price reference in your mind. This means that you know what you should be paying for different items. Retailers are aware of this so they will try and deceive you at times.
As an example if a 5 pound bag of flour usually costs $4 then they may change this to 1.5 kilograms for the same price which means you are getting less for your money. A lot of people will be unaware that there is a difference and just accept it but you need to be smart and understand what you are getting for your money.
Be careful who you go Shopping with
It may sound very appealing to go out with a group of your best friends to the mall on a shopping expedition but this can end up with you spending a lot more. When others are around you, especially good friends and family, they can have a major influence on what you purchase.
When a group of people go shopping there is often a “group level” decision made about how much you should spend on something. If the group concurs that it is OK to spend $500 on a new handbag then it is easy to conform to this. You then go home with a new bag that you didn’t really need and $500 less in your account. Be strong and avoid this pressure.
Get into the Pre-Shopping Habit
Before you go out to the mall and spend more than you need check the prices of the items that you want to purchase online. You do not have to purchase the item online as you can use price comparison websites to find the best deal and then go to the relevant store to make the purchase.
There are many websites that can help you with this depending upon what you want to purchase. Some popular examples are:
Just use your favorite search engine and type in what you are looking for such as “TV shopping comparisons”. You should be able to find websites that will show you where the best deals are in town.
Avoid Online Buying impulses
If you like to shop online on websites such as Amazon.com then it can be really tempting to buy things that you don’t need on impulse. Online retail websites are just as clever as stores when it comes to tempting you to make impulse purchases.
A classic tactic used by Amazon is “people that purchased this item also purchased…” You need to develop discipline and just purchase the original item that you need. Let’s say that you need a new toaster and don’t have a model in mind. Use the search function of the online store rather than category links.
If you go the category route then you will see other items that may tempt you to make a purchase when you don’t really need them. A search for “toasters” will just return different models of a
Pre-Plan your Shopping Trips
When you go into any store there will be items on display that will tempt you. If you don’t plan your shopping then you will be far more likely to purchase items that you don’t really need. With a little thought you can venture into the stores with confidence knowing that you will only make necessary purchases.
These things will help you stay on track in stores:
Prepare a list of essential items – having a written list before you go shopping is a good way to exert more control over your spending.
Don’t use a shopping cart if a basket will suffice – if you only need a few items in a store then don’t use a shopping cart as the empty space may influence you to fill the cart up!
Take the exact cash amount – go through your list of items and calculate how much you will be spending in total. Add in money for parking if that applies as well. Then go to the ATM and draw out the exact cash amount. If you don’t have the cash then you can’t make impulse buys.
Don’t take your credit cards – when you have credit cards available you have spending power. The sky is the limit and those impulse purchases will seem very doable.
Free isn’t always the best deal
When you are out shopping you may see a deal where you will get a free gift certificate if you spend a specific amount of money. It can be tempting to spend over your budget to get this “free” thing. But you need to consider if this is really worth it.
Let’s say that the store is offering a free $10 gift certificate if you spend over $200. You had only budgeted to spend $150 so is this worth it? A lot of stores will let you buy discounted gift certificates. You may be able to get a $20 gift certificate for $8. If something like this is on offer then it is a much better deal.
The secret to Smarter Shopping
- Don’t be swayed by atmospherics
- Know your price references and check
- Don’t be swayed by group buying pressures
- Compare prices online before you hit the mall
- Use the search facility when shopping online
- Plan all of your shopping trips
- Be wary of free offers
You now have some very powerful ways of being a smarter shopper and avoiding the purchase of items that you don’t need. Some of these may be tough for you at first but with a little practice, you will be fine. So remember:
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