….you may wish to check out Kathryn Blaze Carlson’s excellent article in the National Post from earlier this month. It touches on something that we all know in our hearts, but we usually feel we’re smart enough to avoid: Marketing.
The marketers are everywhere: Google, the supermarket, where we buy gas…….we can’t escape ’em. To deal with being constantly saturated by marketing, we simply believe we’re so savvy that we can see through all of the marketer’s ploys.
Yeah, right. Guess again.
From Canada’s National Post:
Robb Engen weaves back and forth through the maze, following his wife in what he calls “zombie mode.” He submits to her and the labyrinthine Calgary retail outlet, wandering along as she adds this and that to their shopping cart. By the time they finally reach the exit, the Alberta couple has almost always bought more than they had planned.
“We go there with a list and with the intention to leave with what we planned on buying, but something about that store makes it so you can’t help but leave with a few extra things,” Mr. Engen said.
The 32-year-old father and personal finance blogger is, of course, describing a typical visit to IKEA, the iconic Swedish retailer that attracts 734 million shoppers annually and which has just announced plans for its largest North American store in Montreal. At 464,694 square feet, the store will knock the Berlin IKEA from its ranking as the fifth-largest in the world.
By the time customers wind through 54 “inspirational room settings,” three full home settings, the so-called market hall, and a restaurant that seats 600, they will have shopped for 1.5 kilometres. Most will have spent an entire Saturday afternoon zig-zagging back and forth and up and down, all for the privilege of passing a gazillion items they had no intention of buying but suddenly realize they must have.
So shoppers might think they buy a particular item because they decided on their own that they want it, but they also buy because stores use tactics that make it almost impossible for them not to: From the oversized shopping carts proven to make us spend more, to the escalators that take us deeper into a store only to force us across the entire retail floor to go back up or down, to the pie crusts in the grocery store fruit section that inspire us to bake on a whim, to the placement of staple foods toward the back of a supermarket so we have to pass everything else on the way.
But IKEA, with its maze that winds shoppers first through a series of inspirational room settings and then through the market hall, is the retailer that stands out in its almost backward and yet highly successful approach. When Mr. Engen said there is “something about that store,” he was right.
(**Click the map below to ENLARGE**)
According to one expert, the flow of the store disorients customers, it coaxes them past every household item imaginable [unless they access the shortcuts], it tempts them to put items in their cart “just in case I want it” for fear of having to try to find it again later, and it gives them license to impulse-buy.
“By the time you get [to the market hall] you’ve already gone backwards and forwards on yourself through the showrooms, past every [inspirational] setting, and you’ve probably spent half-an-hour,” said Alan Penn, a University College London professor who, together with a former graduate student, used the school’s virtual reality centre to study how shoppers navigate and buy at IKEA. “Only then are you allowed to start buying, and I think you feel licensed to sort of treat yourself.”
Carlson’s article is more in-depth than just the sampling included here, and covers other retailers Abercrombie & Fitch (and why you either love or hate it), and Costco. She also discusses how music and scents are connected to your moods and your purchasing habits.
Very well written, and certainly worth a few minutes.
AND: It just might save you $$$$ this weekend when, armed with this new knowledge, you manage to NOT buy that new duvet, some framed prints of fruit, or a ceramic monkey, despite thinking how nice they would look in your house.
Hey, you laugh now, but when you’re in the store later today, …you’ll be thanking me.