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Tricks Companies Use To Get You To Buy Stuff

List RulesVote up the trickiest marketing maneuvers.

Most companies are primarily focused on their bottom lines and ways to enhance financial growth. But the sneaky ways businesses get you to spend money just might surprise you. Sale prices, promotions, and special offers are really only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, companies utilize psychological principles to influence customers.

The exact methods stores use to trick consumers vary slightly depending on the product or service in question. However, all businesses want you to think you need something; when they can create need, they can draw customers.

  • 1

    They Mark Down Prices But Let Customers See The Higher Dollar Amount

    Customers think they're getting a great deal when they can see an item's original price and sale price. Big box stores capitalize on this; their product displays show the cheaper dollar amount and the more expensive one. In reality, though, buyers may not be getting the greatest deals. This anchoring technique appeals directly to one's instinctual drive to "compare different offers against one another [and] make decisions based on comparative values."

  • 2

    They Make Items Seem Scarce

    When companies can make buyers believe that quantities are limited, sales automatically increase. This is why "while supplies last" and "act now this offer won't last long" approaches are extremely effective. Customers often see this illusion of scarcity employed on airline ticketing websites. Shoppers enter the search terms for a flight and receive a page of results matching the search criteria.

    Some results will claim that only two seats are still available or that a large number of people already bought tickets. In reality, though, the airline usually has plenty of seats.

  • Photo: Janella Hook / Flickr / Public Domain

    They Offer Free Trials To Entice Potential Buyers

    Companies entice potential customers by offering them chances to use a product or service with no upfront cost. When new viewers sign up for Netflix or Hulu, for instance, they get to watch a month of free streaming; participants experience the full range of options. Then, when the free trial is up and the company has created a need for their service, customers are willing to pay full price. This marketing trick appeals to people who love free stuff.

  • 4

    They Try To Make Potential Buyers Laugh

    Video: YouTube

    The need to laugh is universal. Companies know that if consumers are laughing or in a good mood, they're more likely to spend money on the brands that entertain them. GEICO's piglet commercial and Betty White's Snickers commercial are prime examples of this. Potential buyers remember those advertisements because they are so hilarious.