Shopping: Let’s resist that urge to splurge

So how do you know when marketing tactics have been successfully used on you?

Faiza Hai March 05, 2012

No matter how much pocket money you get, surviving the entire month is usually a small accomplishment. We have all been at a point where a little extra is more than welcome. This becomes more pronounced when we come across things we really like. Just imagine entering a mall and seeing all those shirts and shoes, bags and jeans, accessories and jewellery and who can resist those lip glosses and nail polishes despite the many bottles already overflowing on our dressing tables.

Spending money on yourself is not bad and as long as the money is yours, you can buy whatever you want to but do you know that often enough we overspend because of the intelligent tactics employed by marketing companies. The appealing visual displays dazzle our eyes and tempt us to look and ultimately buy things we don’t really need and probably had no intention of buying. Enticing items are placed at eye level. Red tags are placed on products that are not actually on a really great sale at all. Impulse items like sunglasses and magazines are neatly displayed next to the sale or clearance area. Chewing gums and chocolates are purposely placed near the register. Everything you see, hear, feel (and in some cases, smell), is designed to make you want to give the store as much money as possible.

Shopping malls and stores will continue to rely on visual display to lure their customers but do you have a plan to counter these tactics. It is fun to look at and own pretty things but then you can end up crossing your budget and that can spell trouble at the end of the month.

So how do you know when marketing tactics have been successfully used on you? Here are some examples:

1. You enter a store you did not intend on going into

2. You find yourself sifting through the full-price racks even though you went to the shop to check out the clearance racks

3. You spend a lot more than you intended on spending

4. You walk out of the store having bought something that you don’t need and that doesn’t even really belong in the store (like breath mints in a clothing store)

These things happen to the best of us so don’t be embarrassed if you have fallen prey to these marketing tactics one too many times.  The next time you walk into a store, just try to remember that a smart marketing executive has been working to tempt you to buy goodies you do not really need.

Sure, that glittery shirt seems like a good idea when it’s surrounded by flashy lights and appealing accessories, but once you get it home are you going to scratch your head and wonder why in the world you bought something that not even a self-respecting go-go dancer would wear?

If you take a look around, you will notice that everything in your favorite store is set up to compel you to spend. Instead of simply giving in to every temptation and blaming it on poor will power, try to approach shopping with a more critical view. Don’t shop as entertainment. When you hang out at the mall on a Saturday afternoon, you see things you don’t really need. But because you see them, you want them. Ask yourself if you’re buying something because you want it, need it, and will use it…or if you are buying it because it looks good in the display!

The best option for avoiding marketing tactics is to make a shopping list at home, where your needs are evident, instead of the mall where shelves full of other products will distract and entice you. When you see something you think you need, ask yourself some questions: Will I use it enough for it to be worth buying? Will I still be using the product 3 months from now? Will it complete an outfit or will I need to buy more pieces so I can wear it?

Keep track of your purchases. Maintain a list of what you are spending on and you will realize where all that pocket money is going. It will also give you an estimate of how much you can spend.

Remember that it is ok to indulge yourself once in a while. In fact, allow yourself to splurge. Just fix an amount every month and stay within that limit. Happy shopping for next time!

Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.


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