The right smells, the right music, manipulating inventory levels, displaying certain colors: aided by tons of research on consumer psychology, stores now employ all sorts of wily techniques to wine and dine you before getting you in the backseat. (And yes, we meant for that sentence to go there.)
A popular trend these days is the subtle use of scents; according to Kimberly Palmer at US News & World Report, a university study “found that certain scents–Rose Maroc in men’s clothing stores and vanilla in women’s–increased shopping time, number of items purchased, and amount spent.” Want a real world example? Sony Style stores use a “sweetish scent with citrus bases and vanilla overtones” to make the store more appealing to female buyers, while many upscale hotels now employ scents to help create distinctive brands and increase customer satisfaction.
Somes stores – Zara and H&M are two examples – are “training” customers to stop looking for bargains by rapidly changing their inventory on a weekly basis, because shoppers are more likely to buy things they like immediately instead of waiting for sales if they’re worried that the item might disappear by next week. H&M’s spokesperson responds, “Prices are affordable, so it’s OK.”
If you think you’re immune to such techniques, a recent New York Times article on subconscious manipulation may change your mind:
New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.
The Games Stores Play [US News & World Report]
Who’s Minding the Mind? [New York Times]
Fitg? Coconut Sunscreen? Hotels Choose Their Scent [New York Times]
Accessoring the Air [New York Times]