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How to Safeguard Your Budget from In-Store Advertising

Posted by Rebecca Hellmann on Oct 2, 2019 6:45:00 AM

Over a quarter of consumers fall victim to the impulse buy when purchasing goods in-store.

These are not people who are entering a store to meander aimlessly and wind up making a purchase. These are individuals who entered an establishment with the intent of buying one or more specific things and ended up adding items to their cart beyond their identified items(s).

Despite how it seems, this behavior is not random or unusual. Your favorite retail establishments design their floor plans to encourage maximum purchase. When creating their end-caps, aisles, and section plans, brands of all sizes refer to a theory known as the Exposure Hypothesis (Kollat and Willett).

Exposure Hypothesis describes how consumers who enter a retail setting are still in the process of making a final determination. You might have an idea of the type of item you wish to buy, but not the specifics. The result is the ability to influence your final purchase through outside stimuli.

From the placement of the entrances and exits down to where they keep the milk, store designers create directive queues which direct you to take a long walk about the store. Because the longer you are in the establishment, the more products, services, deals, and advertising to which you are exposed.

The tactic works. The majority of consumers end up adding unintended items to their cart. Fifteen percent (15%) of consumers presented with in-store video advertising are more likely to buy the advertised product. Fortunately, there are some strategies to help you avoid an unexpectedly bulky cart.

its-a-trapBe Aware of the Tactics

Working knowledge of the strategies retailers and marketers are using is one of the best ways to guard against cart bloat. Knowing the clearance section is usually full of lower quality items can help you avoid taking a trip there. Reminding yourself that purchasing more means spending more, even when there is a discount for multiples, can help you place only one of your intended item in the cart.

Whenever you walk into a store, remember, it’s a trap!

Prepare Before You Embark

Having only a general idea of what you need is a surefire way to end up with unintended items. Rather than walking into a store with uncertainty, make a list.


Make it a thorough list so there is no question of whether there should be anything else on it. If possible, know the brand and features you require.

For the ideal plan of attack, have a maximum dollar amount you are willing to spend for each item or overall.

Answer Me These Questions Three

Stop! Before that unintended item enters the cart, ask yourself some questions.

  1. holy-grail-questionsWhat is your intended use for the item? No matter how appealing it is, remember you’ll have to store it somewhere or find a way to dispose of it once it has performed its intended use. Is it worth it?
  2. Will I use it? OR (for food items) Should I be consuming this? If you don’t have time to make pasta from scratch, why are you looking at a pasta creation kit? Don’t buy excessive Halloween decorations when you never throw parties or have trick-or-treaters. You get the idea. If you can’t picture yourself using the item regularly or a year from now, you should probably put it back.
  3. Where will I put it? I’ll leave the food aspect of this one alone. But where are you going to put that new pair of shoes?

These strategies may not always help you win against the psychology of retail. But they can certainly help you be more aware of your weaknesses and how you make an impulse purchase. And knowing is half the battle.

What Kind of Budgeter Are You? Take the Quiz!

Topics: consumer budgets, money management, household budgets, financial education, in-store advertising


Written by Rebecca Hellmann

Rebecca Hellmann has been researching and writing in the payments technology industry for over six years. Prior to the payments industry, Rebecca developed marketing, branding, and content for businesses such as Bil-Jac, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Homestead Furniture. She currently works as Director of Marketing for FCTI, Inc.
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