It happens to all of us at one time or another.
There you are, innocently walking through the mall, shopping plaza, or your favorite store. All of a sudden, you see “it” and you are instantly infatuated. What the “it” is varies from person to person. Some people are into shoes, dresses, jewelry, or handbags. Others are hypnotized by electronics like huge TVs, stereo equipment, or the newest tech-gadgets. Whether it’s a pair of expensive boots or the most recent incarnation of the iPhone, it’s there, it’s calling to you, and you’ve got tunnel vision.
Cue the justifications.
“If I don’t get it now, it might be gone when I come later for it.”
“That will never go on sale, I should just get it now.”
“I don’t really have the money for that, but I just want it.”
“I work hard, why shouldn’t I treat myself?”
Whatever reason you use, it works, because we all know how to justify our poor choices to some extent. You find yourself in line with the item, burning up your plastic, floating on a little happy cloud of consumerism as you walk out the door. And that? That is exactly what they want.
They? Who are they?
They are “the establishment.” The stores, the stockholders, the ones making big bucks off of your lack of control.
Impulse spending, the “buy it now” mentality or whatever term you’d like to call it, is a huge money maker for stores. It is based on psychological principles that prey on some of our most basic emotions. The fear of not being part of the crowd. The fear of not being able to get the item you want. Seems like an awful lot of fear for something that is supposed to make you feel good, right?
The way to stop the buy it now mentality is to recognize the tactics that are being used to push you in to buying something, overcome them, and take control of spending on your own terms.
#1-Recognizing the Tactics
Selling is persuasion. Stores or brands are trying to persuade you into buying their product and the sooner, the better. Everything, from the colors they use, to the way the display is set up, is designed to make you buy their product. But, what if you don’t want to? If you’re tempted to buy something that you weren’t initially planning on buying, look to see if they’re using any of these common persuasion tactics:
• Repetition—Using the item’s name or slogan again and again
• Bandwagon-you don’t want to be the one to miss out, do you?
• Testimonial—“This product works!”
• Emotional Appeal—“You’re only young once…”
• Expert Opinion—“3 out of 4 doctors agree…”
Persuasion techniques are proven, studied ways in which you are subconsciously swayed toward something—whether it’s having a belief or opinion, or in this case making a purchase.
Once you’re aware of the invisible battlefield going on in front of you, you’ll find you’re in a much better position to identify the tactic being used, recognize you are being manipulated (sometimes by something as simple as a bag of potato chips), get righteously offended (within reason), and resist any temptation you had to make that impulse purchase. Pat yourself on the back—what you just did isn’t easy!
The more you can practice overcoming your impulses, the more you can take control of your spending. Amazing things start to happen when you find you’re the one in charge of your purchasing decisions. For one thing, you no longer bust your budget because you decided suddenly to buy an item that you hadn’t planned on getting. For another, you might find you have some legitimate extra money you can stash away—in savings or to save for a planned splurge (those are the best kind!).
We all know our emotions can be powerful—powerful enough to make people spend their rent money on a pair of shoes or the newest “It” bag. When we realize we allow our emotions to be compromised—oftentimes unwittingly—at the hands of corporations looking to make money, it really puts the allure of the “buy it now” mentality into question. Do you want to be among those who made all their psychological research pay off? Or would you rather be the one who was too smart for their sneaky tricks?