Even the comma has an effect, which is why companies tend not to put any commas on their price tags most of the time. This article features more ways that big companies use to alter our perceptions for one reason or another.



Animesh Kaushik

We are all aware of how prices are always put a bit under the whole number, as if they want us to feel dissatisfied. It is quite known that this trick is used to make the consumer feel as if they are spending less money; after all, 99 is less than 100, but this plays a big role in tricking us. Many might have noticed this, but this same trick is employed differently when it comes to discounts. Companies put a discount of the nearest zero so that the consumer feels as if they are getting more discount. Even the comma has an effect, which is why companies tend not to put any commas on their price tags most of the time. This article features more ways that big companies use to alter our perceptions for one reason or another.

1. The Gruen Transfer: When going to a supermarket, sometimes a consumer tends to get lost, and sometimes they might blame the person who designed the layout. But it is not lazy work or done by mistake. It is an ingenious idea, as when human beings get lost in these supermarket lanes, they tend to give in to their impulse cravings and buy certain items they wouldn’t have bought if they were never lost, says Marketing Expert Martin Lindstrom, who has done various studies on marketing strategies. Marketing professor Wendy Liu at UC San Diego has authored research where it was found that being interrupted while shopping makes you less price sensitive. Most people tend to feel embarrassed when an employee approaches them, which sometimes leads them to buy a product they are not even sure of. This trick is named after the architect Victor Gruen, who ironically hated such manipulative techniques.

2. Sense of Nostalgia: We have all felt connected to certain advertisements. Kudos to the people behind it if they successfully connected with us. Advertisers make us feel nostalgic on purpose, which triggers emotions in us and makes us think less practical. A camera is a great example. A bachelor living away from their family due to work won’t necessarily require a camera, but one day he sees an advertisement for a camera capturing beautiful family memories, which might take him back to his past. The moment that happens, his will might falter, and he might succumb to his temptations and buy that camera so that maybe he can capture certain moments of his own.

3. Emotional Attachment: All advertisements basically have the same purpose to trigger certain emotions in us that guide our perception. Many times, we don’t even understand what product is being showcased in an advertisement, and it is only shown at the end. That is done by many advertisers so that consumers connect themselves to the product through the story and make their own meanings. This sometimes fails, but sometimes it works so well that the specific product becomes a synonym for it. The biggest example is Maggi. All kinds of instant noodles in India translate to Maggi for the consumer.

4. Dropping the Dollar (currency sign): Most restaurants don’t put the currency sign on their menus, especially multinational food chains. They didn’t run out of ink; it’s done since dropping the currency sign allows the customer to be more open to spending, as proven in a Cornell University study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management. According to the study, consumers spend 8% more when the currency sign (dollar in this case) is dropped.

5. Background sound: Sound can also alter your spending, as different types of sounds can make you buy specific items. Ambiance and scent can make you less stingy with your cash. An experiment was done in an appliance store by Martin Lindstrom, where he inserted a scent similar to that of an apple pie, which increased the sales of ovens and fridges by 23%. Even non-musical background sounds can have the same effect on you. Noise and the distraction caused by it affect people and make them buy more expensive sneakers.

6. Words related to smaller amounts: The use of words and phrases related to small amounts makes a consumer spend money easily. For example, a low-maintenance car will get more customers interested than a high-performance one, even though both qualities are valued and, in many ways, go hand-in-hand.

7. Sense of Urgency: A very commonly known technique is giving a false sense of urgency by using sentences like “Limited stock” or “Only three left” and more. All this makes a consumer think twice about their careful budget planning and, most of the time, spend money on the product.

8. Usage of Discounts: There are various ways that discounts are used to increase sales. One of them is to show a contrast between the actual price and the discounted price. Usually done by showing the original price in bold while the discounted price is smaller and in a different color. Companies always go for the bigger number for discounts. For example, if a product is priced at 200 rupees and the discount is 10%, rather than saying it has a 10% discount, they will just say that the product is being sold 20rs. off.

9. Arbitrary Coherence: It is also one of the most used tricks, especially by restaurants. It refers to having a comparatively expensive item on the menu while the other items are quite cheap. This makes the cheaper items look reasonable even when it is not making the customer buy that item.

10. Exposure to Higher Prices: Changing the prices of surrounding items to increase the sale of a specific item. There was an experiment conducted in 2004 where a vendor was selling music CDs on a footpath while the adjacent vendor was selling sweatshirts. The sweatshirt vendor kept changing the prices every 30 minutes. The lowest was 10 dollars, and the highest was 80 dollars. The sale of the Music CDs was at its maximum when the price of the sweatshirt was displayed at 80 dollars. These were 10 tricks used by corporations that change how consumers perceive a product and proceed to buy it. There are countless other techniques, which are evolving over time. So, make sure you see through these tricks and can spend better.

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