Have you ever walked into a shop to buy something, and walked out with a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t go in for? Or go out for a quiet drink, only to end up way drunker than you planned?

Why does that happen? Well, the simple answer is this: everyone wants your money and they know how to make you spend it! Sometimes all it takes to overcome behaviour, is to underdand it. By being aware of simple ‘tricks of the trade’ you can save yourself a lot of money, and exercise better control over your choices.

http://www.care2.com/news/member/939310581/1442303Here’s an example: Back in the day, before trade laws and consumer rights, cinemas would pump the smell of popcorn right into the theatre at half time, moments before an advert for refreshments came on. Over half the cinema would stand up to go and buy popcorn. The power of suggestion is a pretty strong force on it its own. Combine it with one of the senses and you’re onto a winner.

Or remember those ads with the happy, beautiful people in stunning places with their hoards of friends, all laughing, being happy, sitting at log fires on ski slopes, or sailing a beautiful ocean? And smoking Peter Stuyvesant. Appealing to your sense of adventure, your need for friends, fun and excitement – and of course, the desire to be thought of as “cool”.

Those are all things that fall under the category of marketing psychology – manipulating your senses and your emotions to make sales.

I was chatting to a bar owner one day when he mentioned ‘bar psychology’. He explained it like this: nightclubs and bars have very limited seating space, and pretty much nowhere to put down your drink. Why? Because when you’re sitting you drink slower. When your drink is on the table in front of you, you drink slower. When it’s in your hand you drink more and faster.

Or have you ever noticed how you’ll be having a perfectly pleasant evening, when suddenly the music goes up really loud and you have to start yelling at each other to be heard? Yes? Why is that? Because yelling makes you thirstier, which makes you buy more to drink.

What about supermarkets? Where do you find the bakery? At the back of the shop. Where do you find the milk? In the back isles. What about the eggs? Why? So that you have to walk past all the ‘nice’ stuff before you can get to the essentials you walked in for. Because maybe, probably, you’ll pick up something else on your way.

Not to mention the shelves of beautiful sweets and yummy treats at the checkout counters – along with (again, once upon a time) the cigarettes and chewing gum.

What about ad breaks on tv? Anyone with a sleeping baby knows how much louder the adverts are than what you were just watching. Why? To grab your attention, no doubt.

In many ways we are rather pre-conditioned to think in certain ways – why else would you need a bikini clad girl in a car sales advert? (I kind of cringe on the inside when I see those. Do people really still think that’s a good way to advertise?)

But being aware of the conditioning, and aware of the tricks of marketing, you could save yourself a lot of money, and more importantly, be in control of your own actions, rather than having yourself and your children manipulated along with the masses.

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