MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Shoppers beware: retailers are increasingly using psychological tricks to get you to make more, and in some cases, different purchases.
“Retailers are really psychologists. They understand how to get a consumer to spend more money in their store by staying longer in the store,” said Cynthia Cohen, dubbed the “Strategy Diva” by retailers. “It’s going to start here this year on the mobile phone.”
Cohen told CBS4’s Brian Andrews that stores already have customer’s number.
“For the first time this year, when you walk into a store, you may get a message on your smart phone telling you the product you were researching online is in the store right now in your size,” said Cohen.
“How do they do that?” asked Andrews.
“Geolocating,” responded Cohen.
She also said that “in store” displays may be texting you this year.
“When you walk by a display, your phone will even tell you the product you want is on the rack. Big retailer is watching!” explained Cohen.
Your past visits to a store’s website are helping retailers do this. For example, loyal customers who haven’t opted out of their email or text alerts help push customers to shop till they drop.
“The consumer wants messaging that’s relevant, things that relate to me, things you know I like, such as my size or colors,” said Cohen. “You are going to be seduced by-product, by offers.”
And that’s before you even get to the mall.
“When you get to the mall, you may find that same offer that you got, or a different offer that gets you in the store,” Cohen told Andrews.
Once you’re in, expect an assault on your senses: touch, smell, sights, sounds.
“You know what the last one is?” Cohen asked Andrews.
“No,” he replied.
“It’s taste,” she said.
“Really?” Andrews replied.
“Yes and on certain shopping nights there will be coffee in some stores, Champaign in others,” Cohen outlined. “Retailers are going to reward the customer with all five senses when they walk into a store because you can’t get that feeling online.”
It’s about grabbing your attention fast with an eye-catching display right at the door.
“Most consumers and retailers know this. Customers walk to the right,” said Cohen.
“Why is that?” asked Andrews.
“It’s been true for a long time. It’s consumer psychology. Now we’re at the point where it’s the chicken or the egg because the retailer plans for you to walk to the right,” replied Cohen.
Cynthia says walking into the store is like looking up a ski slope.
“If you look toward the back of the store, you see a mannequin that’s up higher. You’ll see a display that is built higher,” said Cohen.
“Oh, so it keeps increasing,” Andrews noted.
“Yes, it keeps increasing because what they want to do is draw you in deeper,” said Cohen.
And as you’re being reeled in, you’re passing what retailers call “Discovery Zones.”
“That’s where you would look and say, aha, here is the party dress I have been looking for, and then my eye catches the jewelry over there with another aha, and I need a gift. So that you’re picking up more and more things as you go along,” explained Cohen.
From the size of the floor tile to the music that’s played, retailers play us like a fiddle.
“A retailer fits the music to their image, their brand, and the time of day.So it all depends, once again, its psychology,” Cohen pointed out.
And then there’s the gift card.
“Oh my God I don’t want to embarrass her by buying a size that’s too big or too small. The gift card is the last-minute solution,” Cohen explained. “You’ll find a lot of men buying gift cards at the last lap of shopping.”
“Is that because guys are just bad shoppers? Or we don’t want to make a mistake with the women in our lives?”
“All of the above!” exclaimed Cohen.
Cynthia said you’d better get that card from a brand you know she loves.
“When all else fails, the guy goes for a name that’s in the back of his mind that he’s heard over and over again, and if he’s smart, he won’t tell her it was his mother’s favorite brand,” said Cohen.
And when you have no clue to what to purchase?
“You go for the accessory,” answered Cohen. “The accessory is always safe!”
That would include watches and costume or statement jewelry.
“She’s now changing her jewelry as frequently as she’s changing her dresses. It has to look like bling, it has to be fashionable, hopefully in the colors she likes. Dont worry about the price, just wrap it really nice,” Cohen advised.
This year’s shopping rush won’t be just to buy something for others. Retailers are ready for the young women called the “self purchasers” who are shopping for holiday party attire.
“The “be seen” items. The things you “haven’t seen me in” before item,” said Cohen.
Retailers are aware that you’re also looking at a gift purchase having double bangyou’re your buck.
“I’m gift shopping. I’m also looking at what’s in it for me. So if I spend $150 dollars, I get something else. That something else is probably going to be a gift for me,” said Cohen.
“The vast majority of holiday money is spent by the woman. She’s buying for the mother-in- law, the kid’s teachers, the grandmother, the inlaws,” Cohen explained.
Nine times out of 10, said Cynthia, it is the woman of the house who is doing the shopping for the family unit.
“Shes checking comparable prices and will say I can get this somewhere else. What can you sell it to me for?” Cohen said.
She also predicted that this year, more plastic will be flashed at the register than cold, hard cash. Also, coupon shoppers will be using their mobile devices comparing deals.