Monday, 13 February 2012

# 44 Falling for the trick

On Wednesday I finally reached the word count for my degree dissertation *punches the air*. I am writing about consumer psychology, specifically (since I am a fashion student) in women's fashion. It's a subject I have been interested in for a while, but it wasn't until I began researching it for my degree that I discovered what a complicated business XD (Experience Design) is.

I've written a fairly balanced research piece on it since there's everything up to PhD level papers to fill in my knowledge gaps. But here I'm going to take my cynical bitch stance, because I want to tell it like it is.

Looks attractive doesn't it?
Shopping is a minefield of temptation. You may think your favourite brands are there for you, but really they're only after your money and they don't care how in debt you're going to get as long as you're shopping with them.

M&S may have customer charter slogans all over its walls these days but they're not doing it because they actually care. They are appealing to their customers ethical standpoint in hope they'll feel better about investing in their products. M&S is losing the war on the high street to the big guys just a few doors up like Primark who are doing exactly the same thing but with the cheapest stuff they can get away with. And it's working, because the recession has hardly dented their profit margins.

But don't beat yourself up about that last time you were too weak-willed to walk away from a 2-4-1 on something you really didn't need. You're being subliminally brainwashed into product desirability. From the colour of the sales label to eye level branding as you walk down the aisles, it's all there to make your life hell as you try in vain to stick to your list.

You see, there is nothing about a shop which hasn't been specifically designed to make you want to step over the threshold and buy buy buy. Have you ever wondered why sale tickets are always red? It's because red is the colour of determination and desire. It is also the colour that our eye is first attracted to and why customers will make a beeline for the sales rails - because red will suggest you're going to get 'the one'. And it doesn't matter what brand you shop at, they'll all be trying the same tricks on you - just in slightly different ways.
Colour in store decor and advertising is designed as a mood enhancer
Not falling for it is easier when you know about it and you make a point of sticking to your shopping list, but there's no doubt it takes all the fun out of shopping - that buzz when you find the 'bargain of the year' that wasn't really. We all weaken at some point. If I can I'll let myself out to be seduced by the tactics and yes it feels good. But most of the time, I'm aware of everything that's going on which makes it kind of boring.

Experience Design - the process by which stores are designed to tick all the customer boxes - falls into a number of categories which they use to break down every aspect of the shop floor. By covering all these sections it ensures the maximum chance of the store attracting customers. In its simplest form here's what is looks at:

Duration (Initiation, Immersion, Conclusion, and Continuation)
Intensity (Reflex, Habit, Engagement)
Breadth (Products, Services, Brands, Nomenclatures, Channels/Environment/Promotion, and Price)
Interaction (Passive, Active, Interactive)
Triggers (All Human Senses, Concepts, and Symbols)
Significance (Meaning, Status, Emotion, Price, and Function)

I'm not about to bore you all with the ins and outs of consumer psychology, I couldn't possibly fit it all in to a 'blog a day' even if I wanted to, but just think about what you're doing and how you're reacting when you next step out onto the High Street. Be conscious of what's going on around you and see if you can pick up on what's happening. If you are a shopaholic and easily seduced by sales gimmicks, this could be the solution you needed.

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