Table of content

    Where is consumer psychology used?

    Consumer psychology is used in marketing and market research to better understand consumer behavior and develop effective marketing strategies. This includes adapting products, advertising, and sales tactics to the needs and desires of the target consumer group.

    Understanding consumer psychology helps businesses attract and retain customers, improve their experience with products and services, and achieve successful sales results.

    What is consumer psychology?

    Consumer psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the study of consumer behavior. This behavior refers to their attitudes, motives, and decisions regarding the purchase and consumption of products and services.

    This field of psychology explores how consumers perceive, evaluate, and select products, how emotional and cognitive processes influence purchasing decisions, and how external influences, such as advertising, social norms, and groups, shape consumer behavior.

    How Stores Use Consumer Psychology To Get You To Spend More Money

    Retailers employ various consumer psychology tactics to encourage customers to spend more money. Here are some common strategies:

    Product Placement

    Stores strategically place high-demand or impulse-buy items near the entrance, checkout counters, or eye-level shelves to grab shoppers' attention and increase the likelihood of spontaneous purchases.

    Sales and Discounts

    Offering discounts, sales, or limited-time offers can create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to make a purchase before the opportunity expires.

    Clearance sales and "buy one, get one free" promotions are examples of tactics that entice consumers to buy more.

    Sales and Discounts example, photo by Vecteezy
    Sales and Discounts example, photo by Vecteezy

    Pricing Strategies

    Retailers often use pricing techniques like charm pricing (setting prices just below a whole number, such as $9.99 instead of $10) to make products appear more affordable. They may also employ bundling (combining multiple products for a lower total price) or tiered pricing (offering different pricing options with varying levels of features) to encourage customers to spend more.

    Scarcity and Exclusivity

    Limited availability or exclusive offers can create a sense of scarcity, driving customers to purchase items before they run out. Retailers may use phrases like "limited edition," "while supplies last," or "only available in-store" to trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO).

    Visual Merchandising

    Effective store layouts, appealing displays, and well-designed product arrangements can influence customers' perceptions and guide their buying decisions.

    End-cap displays, color psychology, and creating visually appealing product groupings can all impact consumer behavior.

    Visual Merchantising
    Visual Merchantising, photo: shop in Peru

    Social Proof

    Retailers leverage social proof by showcasing positive customer reviews, testimonials, or endorsements to build trust and influence purchasing decisions. Online ratings, customer testimonials, and influencer marketing are examples of how social proof is utilized.

    Up-selling and Cross-selling

    Retailers often suggest additional products or services related to customers' current purchases. Phrases like "Would you like fries with that?" or "Customers who bought this item also bought..." are aimed at encouraging customers to spend more by adding complementary or upgraded items to their carts.

    Loyalty Programs and Rewards

    Retailers implement loyalty programs to incentivize repeat purchases.

    Offering rewards, points, or discounts for future purchases encourages customers to return to the store and spend more over time.

    Rewards card, image by Elite personal finance
    Rewards card, image by Elite personal finance

    10 Tricks Retailers Use To Manipulate Your spending

    While retailers employ various strategies to influence consumer behavior, it is important to note that not all retailers engage in manipulative tactics. However, here are 10 techniques that have been observed in the retail industry:

    Limited-Time Offers

    Creating a sense of urgency by advertising limited-time promotions or sales can encourage consumers to make quick purchasing decisions.

    Dynamic Pricing

    Retailers may use algorithms to adjust prices in real-time based on factors such as demand, time of day, or individual browsing history, potentially influencing consumers to pay higher prices.

    Loss Leaders

    Offering certain products at a loss or heavily discounted prices to attract customers with the expectation that they will purchase other items at regular prices.

    Hidden Costs

    Advertising a low initial price but adding additional fees or charges at checkout, such as shipping fees, service fees, or extended warranties, which can increase the overall cost of the purchase.

    Impulse Buys at Checkout

    Placing small, low-cost items near the checkout counter to entice customers to make unplanned purchases while waiting in line.

    Product Placement and Store Layout

    Strategically positioning high-profit or impulse-buy items at eye level or near popular sections of the store to increase their visibility and the likelihood of purchase.

    Misleading or Deceptive Advertising

    Using exaggerated claims, selectively presenting information, or manipulating images to create a more favorable perception of a product or its value.


    Displaying a high-priced item next to a similar but lower-priced item to make the lower-priced item appear more affordable or reasonably priced by comparison.

    Reward Programs

    Implementing loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases and create a sense of exclusivity or special benefits for loyal customers.

    Subliminal Cues

    Incorporating subtle sensory cues, such as scents, background music, or store ambiance, to influence customer moods, emotions, and buying behavior.

    Literature and Sources on Consumer Psychology

    Consumer Neuroscience (The MIT Press)

    by Moran Cerf (Editor), Manuel Garcia-Garcia (Editor), Philip Kotler (Foreword)

    This book is the first comprehensive treatment of consumer neuroscience, exploring how insights from psychology and neuroscience challenge the assumption of consumer rationality, covering topics such as sensory mechanisms, brain tools, cognitive factors, and ethical considerations in understanding non-rational decision making in consumer behavior.

    The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Psychology

    Author: Michael I. Norton is a Professor of Business Administration in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School.

    This Handbook analyzes cutting-edge consumer psychology research through individual, interpersonal, and societal lenses and considers future directions for the field.

    Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology

    by Frank R. Kardes (Editor), Paul M. Herr (Editor), Norbert Schwarz (Editor)

    The Handbook of Research Methods in Consumer Psychology provides valuable insights into the impact and utilization of research methods in understanding consumer psychology, featuring an in-depth analysis by Kardes, Herr, and Schwarz on scientific methods for comprehending consumption-related judgments and decisions, making it essential reading for researchers, students, and professionals in the field.

    Consumer Psychology: Theories & Applications

    by Hazel Huang (Author)

    Consumer Psychology: Theories and Applications is a comprehensive textbook by Hazel Huang, exploring psychological theories and practical applications in consumer behavior for advanced marketing and applied psychology students.

    About the Author

    Goran Zoric writes SEO articles on various technical and other topics, diverse reviews, internet marketing, and website development.

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