Consumption | Five secret goals to spend us

There are obvious reasons why one product is preferred over another: its price, quality, or utility. There are other, more subtle mechanisms discovered by researchers or marketing professionals, often with nothing rational about them, but quite effective. Here are five.



“Hello!” Jean-Marc Léger, president of Léger, notes that a boutique entrance “can increase sales by up to 10%.”

The decision to buy or not to buy in a store is not just a matter of price: interaction with employees is important. Marketing research firm Léger even managed to quantify this aspect in its WOW customer experience study last fall. First example: “Hello!” “in the introduction. President Jean-Marc Léger points out: “If good in-store service is provided, it can increase sales by up to 10%”.

With a similar observation identified by Léger, Gaétan Frigon, president of the Société des Alcools du Québec, made commercial changes in the state corporation between 1998 and 2003. “We showed Mr. Léger that a customer entering SAQ and not talking to anyone bought an average of $32 worth of wine. If he asked for the information, the average purchase increased to $45, and if the staff actively offered new bottles, the sale 64 rose to the dollar.

Another unusual observation: customers are 76% more likely to buy products when employees feel they are happy, engaged, and passionate about their work. Without this perception, the conversion rate is only 64%. These discoveries are particularly important in Quebec, where two-thirds of supermarket purchases are spontaneous, compared to the rest of Canada’s third, Léger said. “The impact of in-store marketing is more effective on Quebec consumers than on the rest of Canada,” he believes.



Who buys $7.50 medium popcorn at the movie theater when large format is offered for $8.50? In fact, the medium format acts as a “cheat” to make the large format more interesting.

Who buys $7.50 medium popcorn at the movie theater when large format is offered for $8.50? Why $150 wine at a restaurant when most bottles sell for $40-$60?

In these two examples, we really don’t intend to sell pop corn average size and the bottle is overpriced. They are what we call “decoys” in marketing, applied to the psychological concept described in 1974 as “anchors.” It’s about the difficulty of getting past the first impression—oversized popcorn is really cheap, other bottles of wine seem cheap—that will strongly influence our purchase decision.

In 2003, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Drazen Prelec demonstrated this psychological bias to an absurd degree: 55 students were invited to an auction where they had to write down their last two social security numbers and then the price they received. was willing to pay for one of the items. The higher their last two social security numbers, the more they were willing to pay at auction, up to 346% more.



Since Victor Gruen’s first concept, shopping malls have been designed as mazes designed to confuse the customer.

Do you get lost easily in shopping malls? Don’t worry, this is intentional and this phenomenon is even called the “Gruen effect” or “Gruen transfer”. Austrian architect Viktor Gruen was responsible for Minnesota’s first enclosed, indoor, air-conditioned mall in 1956. The concept of an enclosed, labyrinthine space, including attractions and restaurants as well as shops, lives on to this day. It has a distracting effect to the point where the customer does not remember the original purchase intention, hence the concept of transfer. By the way, Victor Gruen publicly refused its creation in 1978, because he originally planned to turn it into a community place where shops would be combined with residential houses, clinics, schools and parks.

Jean-Marc Léger points out that the mechanics of the Gruen effect are similar to what happens in supermarkets. “Most consumers follow the same in-store customer journey, walk the same aisles and stop in the same places every time they shop. The main thing is to distract the consumer and attract him to another section of the store to show him other products. »

Sound and light


Ronald Milliman, a retired marketing professor at Western Kentucky University, discovered as early as 1982 that slow music played in a supermarket caused customers to walk more slowly and buy more.

In 1999, three researchers, North, Hargreaves, and McKendrick, published a disturbing study. Effects of in-store music on wine choices. Experimentally, they found that playing French or German music greatly influenced the choice of customers in a boutique specializing in wines: they were then more inclined to choose the local wine that the song played. During the survey, customers claimed that they did not even notice the origin of the music stream.

Ronald Milliman, a retired marketing professor at Western Kentucky University, discovered as early as 1982 that slow music played in a supermarket caused customers to walk more slowly and buy more. Conversely, good music makes customers feel more in a hurry and they won’t stay long in a fast food restaurant.

“Christmas music drives sales and is quantifiable,” says Luis Areas, vice president of channel strategy and business development at the Cartier agency.

He also notes on another emotional level that the choice of lighting is very important to the customer, even if they don’t realize it. “We know this from our experience. The angle of the light rays will highlight certain products. Cooler light will make you look more tired. Lights are dimmed in restaurants to give more space to smell and taste. Everything is calculated. »



Researchers at the Grenoble School of Management in France found that by putting subjects in a nostalgic state, they became less attached to money and thus more spendthrift.

Arnaud Granata, president of the Infopresse group, says that one of the most powerful marketing techniques is the use of nostalgia. “Family reunions, memories of childhood, Santa Claus, all these things are used to encourage purchases. We see this a lot in advertising, it’s a technique that comes up year after year. »

It seems difficult to demonstrate the fact that nostalgia pays. Researchers from the Grenoble School of Management in France succeeded in this in 2014. They conducted six experiments, asking their subjects to think about, for example, happy memories or describe an event from their past. Those in the nostalgic state were found to be less attached to money and thus more spendthrift.

Nostalgia is also there, and often during the holiday season, to return to old movies, where the combination of money and advertising placement is sometimes far from subtle. Luis Areas of the Cartier agency believes that “This kind of placement is not left to chance, the power of film to influence our purchases is enormous.”

More details

  • 5%
    According to neuromarketing author Roger Dooley, it’s the proportion of buying decisions that are made consciously. The rest would be unconscious.

    source: 100 Ways to Persuade and Persuade Consumers with Neuromarketing, Brain effects2011

    According to a famous study by neuroscientist Alan Hirsch, the percentage of customers willing to pay $10 more for Nike shoes in a well-smelling room.

    source: Preliminary Results of the Olfaction Nike Study1990

  • $3.70
    Removing the $ sign from restaurant menu prices resulted in diners spending an average of $3.70 more per meal, according to a study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management.

    source: Impact of menu-price formats on restaurant receipts, 2009

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