The Booby Traps of In-Store Marketing


Have you ever noticed how you can walk into a store, with one or two things in mind, but leave with a shopping cart or basket full of other things? Well, it’s no accident. Okay, maybe it was an accident on your part, but businesses like retail stores have this all planned out.

In fact, everything from placement of items, to lighting, to smells are planned out by these stores, in an effort to get your money! Now, we’re not saying that you should be paranoid, looking over your shoulder for mood lighting and conveniently placed shopping carts everywhere you go. In fact, relax and enjoy the store—they have certainly put in a lot of effort for just that. But do be aware. Check out the video for or read the full transcript to learn more about these “booby traps.”


1) The most profitable department comes first. When you walk into a large department store, the expensive items, cosmetics, perfume, and handbags, are always at the entrance. This is so that you have to walk by over and over, and the more you walk by, the more likely you are to buy.
2) The most expensive version of products are at eye level. Next time you go shopping, take a look around. Chances are, if you look up or down, the items will be cheaper, but at eye level? They’re the most expensive!
3) Shopping carts or bags. So you were just going to go in for one or two things, but then you spot a nice, inviting, fun-to-roll shopping cart at the entrance. Your one or two items can now easily turn into ten or twenty.
4) Impulse Items are always near the checkout. They’ve got candy, magazines, and key chains… all the little things that you might just buy, even if you don’t need them!
5) Sensory Marketing. Often times stores pay big bucks to outside “sensory marketing” companies take control of your shopping experience.
-Sight: Stores often use certain types of lighting to sell products. For example, in a clothing store, especially a lingerie or bathing suit store, subtle, low lighting is used to make you look better in their clothes, so you will buy more.
-Sound: Music plays a huge part in a store’s overall atmosphere. If a store is going for a calm feeling, they will play soft, relaxing music. Alternately, if a store is going for something edgier, or wants to keep you alert, they might opt for something a bit more upbeat or turn up the volume.
-Smell: One store alone can plant smells in different sections, to bring to mind different thoughts or emotions. For example, using baby powder in the infants’ section will put you in the right mindset to buy baby clothes, while using lilac in intimate apparel will put you in a very different frame of mind.
-Taste: Many businesses have started offering “taste” to their menu of senses. Nice salons offer beverages or snacks, and high-end retail stores offer drinks or have cafes built right in.

So what can you do to avoid these shopping “booby traps?” Mainly just be aware of them. Make a list before you go to any store, don’t grab a shopping cart unless you need one, and remember, always look at the bottom shelves first!

Can you think of any other store tactics to avoid? Comment below and let us know how you avoid them!

Sources: The Simple Dollar,, article


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