In the second instalment of our frugal living series, we look at some of the tricks retailers use to get consumers to spend more.
Summer has just swung into gear and I bet you’re already buckling under the pressure to blow the budget and overspend. It’s no surprise your inbox is being bombarded with flash sales right now.If you’re trying your hand at frugal living to enjoy more of the things that matter, on a budget, now’s the time to double up on guarding your wallets. Retailers want a slice of your festive season budget and they’ll play dirty to get it.
It’s normally the first thing you see as you walk into a store: “Free gift with any purchase of ‘insert item not on your shopping list here’.” And, it’s normally cosmetics, most retailers’ highest profit items, that free gifts are attached to.You think: “I use perfume, right?” But, the free gifts are normally attached to the luxe items that are double, if not more than, more generic brands. The real price of that free gift is how much more the perfume you need to buy to get it costs, compared to what you would normally buy. If you were going to buy anything. If you wouldn’t pay R200 for the free bag on it’s own, back away slowly.‘Buy one, get one free’ deals are like magic tricks. At first glance, you’re blown away. But, once you find out it’s just a sneaky slight-of-hand, it’s more trick and less magic. The fact is you’re so focused on getting something free, you don’t pay attention to what the ‘one’ costs. It might be a good price for two, but not one. Unless you’re willing to split the deal with a friend, give it a skip.
“No more than six per customer.” We already want to buy 12 of these well-priced items. If you’re limited to a certain number, it must be an exceptional bargain, no? No. It’s a play on scarcity, and it’s a complete ploy. You want the things you can’t have. So retailers let you believe you can’t have it. During the holiday season, especially – when all the shoppers are out in full force - this is a particularly effective tactic.
Relaxing music, classical music, and Christmas carols – kryptonite to unsuspecting shoppers. I’m sure you’ve left a shop before because of loud, anxiety-inducing music. Maybe you skipped that shop altogether. So, you can guess why soothing tunes are a weapon of choice for retail stores.The American Psychological Association and European Journal of Scientific Research have produced research that indicates shoppers tend to spend more time in stores that play relaxing music.Classical music, on the other hand, trigger perceptions of affluence. And Christmas carols? They invoke emotions of nostalgia and generosity. Go figure.
4. Impulse Aisle
Have you ever noticed the amount of, what we call, ‘non-essential essentials’ in the aisle leading out to the tills? Clothing stores, supermarkets, pharmacies... they all do it. Line the slow aisle with small impulse purchases (and chocolate) and you’re bound to throw in a couple items. Those ‘small’ purchases all add up. Just stick to the shopping list. For your own good.These are just four of many tactics retailers are willing to throw out to get a slice of your festive season budget. Do yourself a favour, make a strict shopping list and go in with your eyes (and ears) wide open. You may just be able to spot a few ploys of your own that will strengthen your commitment to frugal living.