Buyer Beware

Chances are, given the time of year and all, you’re about to go shopping (and shopping and shopping and shopping and shopping).

But beware says The Los Angeles Times, it won’t be just a walk in the mall. Shopping is a far more complex undertaking than you probably realize, according to researchers who delve into the intricacies of consumers’ buying habits.

We have a difficult time controlling our shopping behavior,” says Alexander Chernev, associate professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “It’s influenced by lots of forces we usually don’t take into account.”

What you see: Retailers work to present their merchandise in the best light – literally. “They use lighting to make something that looks good look even better,” Underhill says. “Everything tends to look better in the store than it does when you get it home.”

What you hear: If you like the music a store plays, chances are you’ll like the products it sells – and vice versa. That, at least, is the message many stores hope to send with their soundtracks.

What you smell and taste: The sweet aroma of roasting chestnuts. Free samples of Christmas cookies. Like music, those are effective ways of inviting customers into a store and making them feel welcome.

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Photo by stevendepolo.

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