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By now, you’re used to ignoring all those emails claiming you’ve won a million dollars, hot girls nearby want to talk to you, and you can enhance your manhood with one click of a dubious link. However, not all marketing tricks are such obvious scams. Some of them are so cunning and widely used that we don’t even notice their impact. Read on to learn the five biggest marketing tricks you should look out for:
1. Sneaky promotional products
Next time you step out of the house, take note of how many people you see wearing clothes that feature little more than a logo. To put it bluntly, these are promotional products masquerading as fashion items. Not only does the company make a profit from the customer purchasing them, but they also score themselves free advertising every time that person leaves the house.
You will often see companies offering multiple packages, with some deals seeming better than others. You might think you know what you want and how to spot a good deal, but you’d be surprised at how much extra this trick can make you spend.
To prove this point, Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, conducted a study. He presented 100 students with three options for a magazine subscription: online-only for $59, print-only for $125, or a print-and-online combo for $125. Most of the students went for the combo subscription as it seemed like the best deal. However, when the print-only option was removed, almost all of the students went for the online-only option because they really didn’t need print. This is the power of decoys.
Have you ever seen a shirt featuring one of your favorite childhood cartoon characters and bought it without a second thought? While you may be happy with your purchase, the company responsible for it did not create the product out of the same sense of loving nostalgia. The truth is much more strategic. Research has shown that nostalgia causes people to value emotions over practicalities, making them far more likely to part ways with their money to honor a cherished memory. So, you can still love your Ninja Turtles shirt, just know it was made tactically to tug on your heartstrings.
4. Clever wording
Perhaps the creepiest part of peeking beneath the shiny veneer of marketing tactics is learning that there are researchers working every day to figure out the psychological triggers that will sucker you in. One thing they’ve discovered is that placing a limit on how many sale items each customer can take makes people believe they’re getting a better deal. So, if you see a “limit of 4 per customer” sign on a sale item, take a few deep breaths, do some calculations, and figure out how many you actually need and whether the deal is truly worth it.
5. Free indulgence
Who doesn’t love a free sample while they shop? While you may think the store is hoping you’ll be convinced to buy a package of whatever indulgent treat they offered you, there’s an even deeper layer of psychology at play here. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that if a customer consumes even just one indulgent treat while in a store, their likelihood of splurging on non-edible luxuries (anything from high-end fashion to technology) goes up. Though it can be startling to realize how far companies go to manipulate you into spending your money, once you know the tricks, it can be fun spotting and avoiding them. So, happy shopping!
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