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10 Ways Fashion Stores Manipulate You To Spend More

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10 Ways Fashion Stores Manipulate You To Spend More

Fashion stores always seem to be at their peak, particularly around the change of the seasons. When spring turns to summer, out come the shorts and peasant tops. When it turns cooler, the big knits and comfy jeans make their triumphant return.

However, it’s a little-known fact, that fashion stores – heck, the majority of stores – are actively trying to play mind games with you so that you’ll spend more time and money in their establishment. Turns out some fashion tricks are good all year round.

So, if you want to be a little bit savvier about your spending habits, and more importantly keep an eye out for signs that your local fashion store is trying to get you to spend an exorbitant amount more than you need, then check out our top ten sneakiest fashion store tricks being employed.

1. The Clothes Are Designed To Feel Slightly Out of Season

Here’s a doozy of a trick that the fashion stores employ – the clothes there are always designed to feel slightly of season, ensuring you buy more through pressure. Despite the established spring/summer and autumn/winter seasons of clothing, industry insiders have confirmed that micro-trends exist on a weekly basis, transforming the way fashion stores and their shoppers operate on a weekly basis.

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This means that shoppers are pressured, week-to-week, to constantly update their looks with new products. They are pressured into feeling always on the verge of being outside of modern fashion. Our suggestion? Focus on style, rather than fashion – besides, everything always comes back around again, anyway.

2. They Advertise Discount Clothing To Sell Lower Quality Products of the Same Brand

One of the most commonly used fashion tricks used to get people to buy more is the ‘discount’. Many of us think we’re picking up a bargain when we head to a store that specialises in cheaper clothing of the same kind we hanker after in bigger, more expensive stores. However, what many are unaware of is that the clothing – while of the same brand, for example – is not the same, and in fact the clothes manufactured for the discount stores is inherently made cheaper and at a lower quality.

This ensures that you see the chance to ‘grab yourself a bargain’ and so spend more money, rather than if you’d spent a little bit more on an item or garment that would stay the course and be of a much better quality. This is one of the most scarily common fashion tricks of the trade, so next time you find yourself tempted by something at a seemingly obscenely low price, make sure you’re buying it from a proper store, and you’ll be getting the product you actually pay for.

3. They Use Alluring or Pleasurable Scents to Make You More Likely To Spend

This one is certainly one of the most unusual fashion store tricks employed, but in stores, they often use particular scents to evoke a positive feeling, which therefore makes it much likelier for you to buy stuff in the store. The effect of scents on human emotions and behaviour has long since been documented – for example, the smell of baking bread in a house makes a strong emotional connection in the brain, eliciting a positive reaction to that house.

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In stores,scents can evoke powerful memory and emotion associations. However, getting the right scent for the right product is practically a science in of itself. Too much scent is off-putting and artificial, while not enough will have no effect on the store’s patrons. Fashion stores dig into your pleasant memories and uses them to induce you into being more open into splurging on a shirt or skirt. Remember that next time you walk into a store and find yourself filled with a warm and fuzzy feeling that has nothing to do with finding the right shirt in your size.

4. They Prey On Your Movement Patterns to Entice You To Buy More Stuff

This is more prevalent and noticeable in supermarkets, but fashion stores use this trick to great effect as well, by placing all of the bright attractive clothing at the front of the store, so that when you walk past, you are immediately enticed inside and find yourself drawn to those particular, brand new and probably at full price. One of the most common fashion store tricks is placing small, cheap items by the cash register where you go to pay for your purchases. These impulse buys are much easier to sell, due to people generally being on a shopping high’, and more likely to pick up something cute like gum, candy, or cheap brand paraphernalia, rather than advertising right in the heart of the store itself. Stop before you buy those little purchases and think, “am I actually gonna use this?”. If not, put it down, and save yourself some money on stuff you won’t use or won’t need.

5 They Use Shiny Objects and Surfaces to Make Their Products Seem Better

Yes, humans are indeed like magpies. We like shiny things, something left over from our hunter-gatherer days and something that continues to reside deep in our reptilian hindbrains. We associate the shiny and the sparkling with something attractive, something we want to own and possess. However, while in those days it was usually some weapon of some kind, rather than a cute sparkly top or the glimmering mirrors in your favourite clothing department store.

We’re meant to be attracted, instinctively, to shiny, reflective things, and fashion stores take advantage of this. They deliberately make their stores as bright and reflective as possible, to entice you inside and make you believe that whatever is inside is worth of purchase. Don’t be blinded by the shiny things people: after all, not all glimmers is gold.

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6. They Encourage Trying On Clothes To Make You Want Them More

This one is an unusual fashion trick rooted in psychology, but actually physically touching a product makes it much likelier for you to want to buy it. Obviously, this is a big selling point and a fashion trick employed in physical clothing stores. Touching can lead to lingering and prolonged feelings of ownership, particularly in clothing stores when you usually physically put the items on to assess them.

In fashion stores, it isn’t uncommon to see an abundance of changing rooms and ‘try before you buy’ incentives offered. While you should always try your clothing before you buy it to help make the best decision for your shape and fit, make sure that you actually like a piece of clothing before buying it; don’t buy it just because you’ve worn it once and feel like you have to buy it because you know ‘own it’. You don’t.

7. They Try and Ride The Wave of Endorphins That Comes With Shopping

Okay, so this is pretty basic stuff, but extensive research has found that shopping releases endorphins and mood-boosting chemicals, making shopping a pleasurable experience. Therefore, stores are more inclined to try and keep you in their stores for as long as possible, so that they can rely on you to ride that endorphin wave and buy more and more to stay in that pleasurable state. This is a good general tip to think about when in a fashion store: they want you to stay as long as possible and spend as much as possible, so ignore that happy little thrill and be objective as possible.

8. They Create Clothing That Is Designed to Be Disposable and Fall Apart

Many of the big industry names in clothing actually engineer clothing to fall apart and be more disposable. Sounds pretty despicable, right? Well, it’s the truth. One of the fashion stores’ most deceitful tricks is using clothing in their stores that is cheaply made and produced, so that when it rips or tears or breaks, you don’t see it as much of a wasted opportunity and go ahead and buy more. In fact, it’s more likely that you spend more money on several copies of the same, cheaply-made garment, rather than a more expensive but infinitely better made version of that product. Be smart and invest in something classic that will last longer.

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9. They Play Songs Exactly Picked to Make Their Products Seem Cooler

Music is a huge part in how we go about our daily lives, and so it’s not too much of a surprise to learn that fashion stores use songs and particular musical moods as one of their top fashion tricks. Studies have found that music, whether listened to consciously or not, elicits an emotional response from the listener. It has also been found that store owners create exact playlists in order to induce moods more likely to be associated with big sales and shopping.

Certain kinds of songs have been known, in a store environment, to cause people to stay longer, make impulse purchases, or even affect the kinds of products the shoppers buy. Next time you’re in a store and hear a catchy little pop song over the intercom system, just remember that not only was it picked to be cool enough to make you think highly of the store, it was designed to make you buy more, so maybe save listening to the song too closely for when you get home.

10. They Trick Your Minds Into Buying More Through Brand Recognition

Finally, one of the most mainstream fashion store tricks is to use the big brands to sell clothing, despite the actual quality of products being debated. In big, high-end clothing stores. When we hear the big names of fashion, we automatically associate them with quality and with something worth owning. In fact, in our celebrity-centered culture, it isn’t at all hard to find coverage of brand name clothing everywhere in our mainstream.

However, sometimes paying for a brand is not a solid purchase in itself, and a lot of the time, the same level of quality in a product can be found in another, lesser known brand. What you are, in effect, paying the extra money for, is for the association that comes with the brand. A handbag with a famous name can be worth $5000 while another, just as good, and without the name, can be $50. While it certainly can be tempting to go with the grain and buy the big names, make sure you do your research, and save yourself some money whilst not having to sacrifice your personal style at the altar of high fashion.

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Featured photo credit: Confessions of a Shopaholic, Touchstone Pictures via media.portable.tv

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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