Why We Buy Unnecessary Things and How Marketers Encourage Us to Spend More

Most people buy unnecessary clothes and appliances. If you also have unnecessary things in your basket, study our tips. Let’s break down why we make impulse purchases, what tricks make us spend more, and how to deal with the urge to buy unnecessary things to save more money for online casino real money NZ games, more significant purchases, or traveling.

Why This Happens

The Desire to “Please Yourself”

People often fall into the so-called “dopamine trap” – for example, when they see tasty food or a beautiful thing in a store and already anticipate the pleasure of possessing it. In high spirits, we can immediately buy the thing we want, but for some reason, after the purchase, the state of happiness evaporates and the purchased goods turn out to be useless.

It’s all about dopamine (or “happiness hormone”), a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain while waiting for a reward. Robert Sapolsky, an American neuroendocrinologist, conducted an experiment in which dopamine in monkeys was only produced while waiting for a banana, not when they received one. It turns out that this hormone makes us feel pleasantly aroused and makes us take action to get what we want. But the point is that dopamine only gives us the expectation of happiness, not happiness itself – and these are different things. That’s why we can so easily make a purchase and then regret it.

Many dopamine traps surround us every day: beautifully decorated food, counters with merchandise, attractive discounts, etc. They make us think that a new purchase will fill our lives with joy, but it’s just a hormone trap. If you realize this, it will be easier to protect yourself from unnecessary spending.

To Become the Best Version of Yourself

Sometimes people think that a new item will help them “get to the next level,” create the right image or get closer to the world of people they admire. As a rule, these are expensive and status things like branded bags, jewelry, a watch, or a car. Many are willing to buy them on credit, to keep up with a colleague at work, a successful classmate, or a neighbor. But there are other purchases that bring us closer to the illusion – for example, a gym membership to start a “new life,” or products marked “eco-bio-organic” as a symbol of concern for one’s health.

To Feel the Effects of Novelty

Often a familiar and quiet way of life brings boredom, and a person wants to bring something new and get vivid emotions. As a remedy for boredom people often choose shopping, but such purchases give only short-term joy.

If life lacks new emotions, think about long-term ways to please yourself. For example, meet new people, think about new career opportunities, an interesting hobby, or set an ambitious goal. These ways will capture your attention for a long time and, unlike other unnecessary purchases, will truly change your life for the better.

You may notice that all of these ways are about emotion. People buy expensive things on credit to show status they don’t have, replace an interesting life with shopping, or are willing to spend extra money to be different from those around them. Most purchases people make irrationally, and then regret their choice and try to convince themselves otherwise. This is called the rationalization effect of buying. The more money, effort, and time a person spends on a purchase, the more he or she tries to convince himself or herself that it’s worth it. 

How Marketers Force Us to Make Spontaneous and More Expensive Purchases

Offline Shopping

The “Right” Fitting Rooms

Mirrors and properly installed lights that visually slim your figure motivate you to buy more things because they look so good on you. Many fitting rooms purposely leave other items on hangers to encourage additional purchases.

Cleverly Arranged Departments

One of the main goals of stores is to keep people on the shelves of merchandise as long as possible. For example, in grocery stores, bread, milk, meat, and other basic products are at the very end of the hall. As people walk to them, they can see the entire assortment and drop additional products into the basket. Even at the beginning of the hall they often put racks of fruit, vegetables, and greens: once you buy something healthy, as opposed to wanting to treat yourself to something unhealthy, so people go to the snacks and drinks department.

Window Dressing

Bright and unusual islands with neatly laid out products and goods always attract attention and cause a desire to consider every detail. Usually, there is a sign with a discount or the inscription “New Collection” next to it, which further motivates an emotional purchase. 

Online Shopping 

Items Left in the Cart

When searching for products in an online store, we often put all the products we like into a virtual cart, and then forget and leave the site or app. Such an “abandoned cart” is a valid tool for Internet marketers. We are constantly reminded of the items in the cart, offering discounts and talking about the benefits. Tricks can motivate you to buy an unnecessary promotional dress or appliance, especially if you’re in a bad mood at that moment. It’s better to remove unnecessary items right away so that you won’t be tempted to buy them in the future.

A Reminder of Past Purchases

The “Already Ordered” block encourages additional purchases: it contains your favorite items with an extra discount and fond memories of a delicious meal, a new gadget, or a tried-and-true shampoo. It keeps you in the online store and makes you wander through the pages, adding items to your cart.

Viewed Items

Once you go to a product page, it immediately starts showing up in the sidebar or your social media and search engine as a banner ad. It’s a proven promotional move that will have you thinking about your new purchase all day long and feeling like it’s destiny or a sign from above (no). 

How to Fight the Desire to Buy Unnecessary Things

  • Set limits on different categories of purchases. Examine your finances and calculate how much you can spend without breaking your budget. In many banking apps you can set up a system of spending limits – you can always see in which category and how much more you can spend by the end of the month.
  • Do some monitoring before big purchases. Gather information about the product: learn about all the features, study objective opinions, compare prices in different stores, and be critical about promotions.
  • Do not go shopping out of boredom or in a bad mood. Learn to satisfy emotional needs without unnecessary shopping. Replace them with walks, talking to loved ones, or a psychologist.
  • Make a list of necessary goods and go to the store no over 1-2 times a week. Strict adherence to the list and infrequent trips to stores or orders in mobile apps will help you not to be distracted by unnecessary purchases.
  • Don’t go to big supermarkets for basic items. Bread, milk, and other everyday products are better to buy at the nearest store, bakery, or farm shop, where the assortment is limited to the goods you need.

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