Psychological Tricks to Encourage Spending

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As the holiday season is coming to a close, you might have spent more than you planned to. If so, you aren’t alone. 

Businesses spend an enormous amount of money to try and get consumers to not only notice their products and services but also to get them to buy more. The secrets of psychological marketing are interesting, and when you know what they are, you might be able to avoid traps contributing to bad financial habits and overspending. 

The following are some of those clever mental tricks to watch for. 

Taking Out the Comma

When you see a price listed with a comma, like $1,250, it seems like it’s more money than if it’s written as $1250. 

According to a research article from 2012, the trick is that when there are more syllables that have to be said, as is the case with the number having the coma, it takes the price longer to process. When there’s a longer process time, your brain perceives that number as being more. 

Creating a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is something widely used in marketing. 

The false sense of urgency is something you might see in everything from buying clothes online to booking plane tickets. 

The company will tell you that there are only three left in stock, for example. 

It can be used in brick-and-mortar marketing as well. For example, the messaging on a sign announcing a sale might say that it’s for a limited time only or that the sale will end at a certain time. 

These are all ways to drive home that sense of urgency where you feel like you’re going to miss out on a deal or opportunity if you don’t take action right away. You then don’t give yourself time to think about the decision, which is the goal of the marketer. 

Scarcity and urgency are concepts that tend to go hand-in-hand with one another in marketing and advertising. 

Reciprocity

The idea of reciprocity is built on the concept that when we receive something, we want to then offer something back. Reciprocity is part of relationship building in our personal and professional lives. 

In marketing, the concept is that you offer something of value to your leads or customers, and then they want to do something to help your business. 

For example, a company might give away a free product, and then that creates a sense of obligation on the part of the customer to make a purchase because of reciprocity. 

Emotional Messaging

Messaging is critical in marketing psychology. Emotions play a massive role in buying decisions. Experts indicate that as many as 95% of purchasing decisions are emotional. 

Marketers will work to figure out what is going to motivate their customers in their messaging. 

For example, maybe they’re motivated by a sense of joy, curiosity, or even fear or greed. Using messaging evokes an emotional response in line with that motivation. 

Another example of an emotional message is using time as a pitch rather than money. For example, it may be less effective to tell someone that an app is 25% cheaper than the competition. What can be more effective because it relies on an emotional response is to tell the audience that using the app will give them 25% more time to do what they love or spend time with their family. 

Social Proof

This principle of psychology is a description of how we look at the behaviors of other people to make decisions as far as what we should do. Celebrity endorsements are a good representation of social proof in action. You might buy something because your favorite celebrity says they use it, and if you do that, you’ve followed the principle of social proof. 

That’s why testimonials and customer reviews are also so important. 

When a company adds testimonials to its website, they see conversions go up by as much as 34%. 

Using Decoys

Finally, if you go somewhere and you see that a small coffee costs $3, but the large, which is significantly bigger in size, costs only $4, the more expensive option seems like, the better deal. This is something called the decoy effect, and the term originated in 1982. 

There’s something called the paradox of choice that’s relevant here. If you have too many options as a consumer, it gets overwhelming, which could lead you to walk away from the purchase altogether. When a more expensive but seemingly better deal is forced on you, you’re being pushed in a particular direction. 


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