I walked into my local Walmart the other day and was instantly hit by the aromatic smell of fresh bread baking. Uh, I love the smell of bread baking. It was right after I had eaten lunch, but it didn’t matter. It was still intoxicating.

Have you ever wondered why one retail store will allow another store into their building? For example, the Walmart had a Subway and the nearby Target has a Starbucks. One reason are the smells they bring. The smell of fresh bread or fresh brewed coffee affects our mood and breaks down our spending discipline. I even heard a story of an appliance store pumping in the smell of fresh apple pie in an attempt to increase spending. The sales of ovens and fridges increased 23 percent.

How about when we walk into our local retail store and we are instantly hit with hot buys that are just too good to pass up. We didn’t need it when we were walking in the store, but the discount was just too good to pass up. What we may not realize is that it is merely the stores way of breaking us down. They know we are often cautious to only buy what we need when we enter the store, but if they can break that spending barrier down, then we are more likely to open up our wallets a little more as we continue with the rest of our shopping. We walk in the store looking to buy a few select items, but we walk out with a grocery cart full. It’s not that they helped us remember other necessary items that we needed. Rather, they convinced us to buy things we really didn’t need.

Even the type of music that is played in various retail stores are aimed at achieving a particular reaction. In retail outlets the music is aimed at extending the amount of time you spend in a store, and thus, spend more. I recently visited a clothing store aimed at teenagers. I personally didn’t care for the music (bring back the classics!) and was ready to leave after a couple minutes. My teenagers, however, had a different reaction. They wanted to stay much, much longer and had no problem finding many things to purchase. If it wasn’t for my level head…that and the fact that I was the one spending the money, they would have walked out with far more than we had planned. Playing the right music will motivate spending.

These tactics, and many others, are used by the best companies as a way to manipulate you out of your money. A mind-blowing amount of research and study has gone into finding out how to get you to spend more. The best way to combat this is to have a plan beforehand and STICK TO THE PLAN. If you didn’t know you needed it before you entered the store then you likely can do without it when you leave the store.

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” – Isaiah 55:2

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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