17 Persuasive Techniques That Retail Chains Use To Manipulate You

If you’re a retail store owner, you know that the layout of your store is one of the most important things to getting people to buy from you. Aisle widths, placement of displays, and products, all play into how easily customers can navigate around the store. 

What most people don’t know is that there are many more factors at play when it comes to manipulating customers into buying more than they intended and this article will reveal some of them!

How Retail Stores Manipulate You – YouTube
1. Retail chains employ cognitive biases to influence buying decisions.
2. Scarcity tactics create a sense of urgency for purchasing.
3. Social proof leverages the power of peer influence.
4. Anchoring pricing helps control perception of value.
5. Limited-time offers trigger the fear of missing out.
6. Personalization tailors experiences to individual preferences.
7. Decoy effect guides customers towards desired choices.
8. Reciprocity encourages customers to reciprocate favors.
9. Emotionally appealing storytelling resonates with consumers.
10. Anchoring high before discounting makes deals seem better.

1. Use Of Color

Your store or website can be designed to influence your customers’ moods, their purchasing decisions, and their overall time in your facility. The color of the walls, floors, and ceiling of your business can change how customers feel as they enter your establishment. 

It can also determine how long they stay there, whether they come back again and what type of products they buy while inside.

Cognitive biases play a significant role in shaping consumer decisions. To understand their impact, explore our article on 19 Ways We Can Learn from Cognitive Biases, and discover how these biases influence buying behavior.

Color Influences Mood

We’ve all heard that red is a powerful color that increases heart rate and blood pressure while blue has the opposite effect on people; but did you know this holds when shopping as well? Color affects our moods and emotions whether we realize it or not! 

Colored lighting has been shown to influence consumer behavior at grocery stores (1), clothing retailers (2), and even restaurants! One study found that sales increased by approximately 20% after switching from white lights to red ones at a retail clothing store (3).

2. The Five-Second Rule

There are five-second rules in retail. If a customer does not decide within five seconds of entering the store, he or she will probably leave without buying anything. 

The reason for this is that shoppers tend to look at everything from the storefront and doorway to their surroundings inside the store and then decide what they want to buy.

That’s why it’s so important for retailers to use psychological tricks like those mentioned above to convince customers that purchasing something from them is an easy task. 

If you want your business model or brand identity as an entrepreneur or small business owner (SBO) client done right, consider hiring professionals who know how these tactics work and can apply them effectively for you!

3. Yellow Is A Call To Action

Yellow is a call to action. When you think of yellow, you probably think first of the sun. The sun is a symbol of happiness and energy. 

It’s also associated with optimism and success, which are all good things! These associations are why companies like L’Oreal use this color so often in their advertisements.”

Yellow is calming but energizing at the same time. It’s bright enough that it can pep up your mood when you’re feeling down, but not so bright as to be overwhelming or stressful on your eyes or brain.”

Neuromarketing techniques can be intriguing and even unsettling. Uncover 15 Terrifying Examples of Neuromarketing at Work to see how subtle cues can steer consumer choices more than you might realize.

4. Color Psychology

According to Color Psychology, red is a warm color and can be used to stimulate appetite. This explains why fast food restaurants and grocery stores often have red in them. 

Many chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Domino’s even have the same shade of red! Blue on the other hand is a cold color that can be used to calm customers down. 

Many grocery stores like Safeway or Trader Joe’s use blue as their main theme because they want to create an atmosphere where you feel calm while shopping there (not so much when waiting in line though). 

Orange on the other hand is another warm color that stimulates appetite – perfect for cafes where you want something with sugar in it! 

Green on the other hand calms us down even more than blue does – perfect for places like hospitals where people come in worried about being sick or injured!

5. Swatches And Samples

Retailers can also use samples and swatches to allow customers to try before they buy. While this may be a simple method, it can be very effective. 

If a retailer has a product that is hard to see in person or online, they should consider giving out free samples of their products so that customers can see them before buying. 

Retailers need to make sure that these swatches or samples are free so as not to discourage people from purchasing them later on!

6. Free Samples And Giveaways

Companies know that the best way to get you to try something new is to offer a free sample. You’ll have no reason to pass up on a chance to try something that you’ve never had before and might like, so they’ll hand them out in bulk. 

They know that once someone tries a product and decides they like it, there’s a good chance they’ll come back for more (literally and figuratively).

Free samples and giveaways can be used for many different products in many different industries. 

For example, if you’re looking for some new hair care products, companies will give away shampoo bottles or travel-sized containers of conditioner so that people can try them out without having to buy an entire bottle up front. 

If you’re interested in finding new makeup products but aren’t sure where or how much your favorite brands cost at the store level, then these companies will send samples of their various lipstick shades so that customers can test them out before making any purchases.

Enhancing sales through subtle strategies is an art. Learn about 17 Subtle Yet Powerful Ways to Use Neuromarketing to Increase Sales and discover how to harness the principles of neuromarketing to your advantage.

7. Testers And Trials

Tasters and trials are a good way to get people to buy more. Smells and scents in stores can change your mood, making you feel like buying that delicious cake or that new perfume. 

The first thing you see is where your eyes will want to go and if the store owner knows this, they can use it to their advantage by strategically placing products that look appealing at the front of the store (like colorful cakes) or near the entrance of an aisle so you can’t miss them.

Colorful packaging also attracts attention just by standing out on shelves because the color is such an important part of human visual perception; our eyes are drawn towards bright colors first! 

This also applies when we’re shopping online through websites like Amazon or eBay: colorful images are usually more popular than black-and-white ones. 

We associate red with passion, anger, love, etc., which is why so many restaurants use red lighting in their dining rooms–it makes customers hungry!

8. False “You’re Almost There” Promises

You’re almost there! This technique is a common tactic used in retail stores. The idea behind the “You’re so close to finishing your shopping list that you want to keep going, even if you don’t need anything else.” 

It encourages people to continue shopping and spend more money than they had originally intended.

The store will make it seem as if they are helping you in your quest by telling you how many items are left on your list or how much money is left in your budget for shopping today. 

This can lead people who are already thinking about buying something extra before leaving the store, into spending extra money than they originally intended to spend at that particular location!

9. Busy Floors Are Good Floors

Busy floors are good for retailers. It’s a simple equation: the more people, the more sales. But it goes deeper than that. Busy floors encourage impulse buying and make customers want to come back.

Busy floors are also good for customers. They offer an experience instead of a transaction, so you can relax and enjoy yourself at the mall without having to worry about being bombarded by salespeople or feeling pressured into buying something you don’t need or want (or can’t afford).

And they’re great for the economy overall because they boost consumer activity and encourage job growth in retail sectors.

Finally, they’re good for the environment because they reduce waste by minimizing packaging needs (though this might be offset by increased CO2 emissions from all those cars on the road).

10. Raising Your Elbow Level To Increase Sales

The higher your elbow level, the more likely you are to spend more money. If a sales associate encourages you to raise your elbows while looking at an item and then directs your attention to another product, you’re probably going to buy it. 

This is because raising your arms makes consumers feel as if they’re being treated as royalty, which increases their desire for luxury goods and services.

Also known as “elbow-height manipulation,” this tactic is commonly used by retail chains like Starbucks or H&M who want customers walking into their stores with wallets full of cash.

Crafting irresistible emails involves psychology and strategy. Dive into our guide on 12 Psychological Tricks to Make Your Email Irresistible to learn how to captivate your audience and boost engagement.

11. Music As A Weapon For Motivation

Music can be used to make people feel a certain way. It’s been scientifically proven that when you listen to music, your brain releases dopamine and other feel-good hormones that make you happier and more motivated.

What does this mean for retail stores? It means that if they play the right songs at the right time, customers will be more likely to purchase things! And retailers are aware of this fact they use this technique all the time.

For example: imagine walking into a store where there’s no music playing at all. You wouldn’t feel relaxed or happy; instead, the silence would probably make you feel tense and nervous. 

Now imagine walking into another store where there’s loud music playing (like rock or hip hop). You’d not want to relax in that environment! 

That said, as soon as you walk into yet another store with soft classical music playing overhead (like Beethoven).

It becomes easier for someone to end up buying something from them simply because they feel good in such an environment and who doesn’t want their shopping trip to give them some extra energy?

12. Play Music That Speeds Up Your Heart Rate

This is a big one. Music that speeds up your heart rate can make you buy more food and alcohol, stay longer in the store, and even purchase more expensive items.

Why does this work? According to research cited by [music streaming service] Spotify, music with a tempo of 140 beats per minute or greater increases your levels of dopamine a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward by 10%. 

It’s also been shown that people spend more money when they’re happy, so it makes sense that upbeat tunes would encourage spending.

As we all know from experience: mood affects what kind of purchases we make!

13. Smells And Scents In Stores Can Change Your Mood

Smells and scents can be used to make you feel relaxed, energized, hungry, or open to persuasion.

Fragrance can be used to create a mood that is appropriate for the product being sold. For example, if you’re shopping for shoes and there’s a new pair of running shoes on display at the front of the store (smelling like sweat).

It will make you think about working out even though running is not your thing and maybe even persuade you to buy them!

A scent associated with another place or time can bring up memories that put people in a good mood. A bakery might smell like fresh baked goods; this would remind people of home and their mom’s kitchen. 

Hungry people may see food in their minds when they hear an appetizing aroma coming from outside their window!

The smell is often tied into memory: what we remember most often is how something smelled when we experienced it last time…what happened next? 

We fell asleep under a tree while waiting for our friends at school during recess one day; now whenever I smell pine trees I think about that memory.”

14. Product Placement And Packaging Height Play Into Purchase Decisions

The most effective way to make an item more attractive to the customer is simply by making it difficult to buy online. This can be done by only selling your product in-store, or by creating a unique design that holds its value better than the competing products on Amazon.

If you have a product that’s hard to find online, take advantage of having it in your store with large displays and special promotions and get the customer interested in your product through stories about how much time or effort went into making it.

Samples that let people try before they buy and even simple things like product testing where customers can test out some features of your item before deciding whether or not they want to purchase one themselves

15. Use Of Color To Increase Appetite, Make Money, And Encourage More Time Spent In Store

Color can also be used to manipulate you into buying more. Studies have shown that red and orange make you hungry, while blue and green make you feel calm. 

You see this in fast food restaurants all the time, where the walls are painted red or orange and there’s a lot of bright light shining on them (to increase appetite).

Also, stores with low lighting use dull colors like brown or gray to give shoppers the impression that their products are high quality. Shoppers think “If these items are expensive enough for me to want to buy them, then the store must be fancy!” 

This makes people feel more comfortable spending money when they get home because they know how much it cost them in terms of time spent shopping around at this fancy store!

16. Candy At The Checkout Line (And Everywhere) Is A Money Maker

One of the easiest ways to persuade your customers to spend more time and money in your store is by offering candy at the checkout line. 

We don’t know if it’s because we associate getting sweets with being a kid and therefore assume we’ll get more of them if we stay longer, or maybe it’s just something about the sweet taste itself that makes us want to linger. 

Whatever it is, having candy right there next to all the other impulse buys will make sure you’re able to keep people at least a little longer (and maybe even help you sell some stuff).

17. Change The Layout Of Your Store To Manipulate Customer Behaviour

If you’re going to be a retail store owner or manager, you need to make sure that your layout is designed in a way that makes it as easy as possible for customers to spend money. Here are some ways that you can do this:

Change the layout of your store to increase the number of times customers spend in the store. For example, if they have something they want but don’t have enough money for them at the time (like when they are only shopping around and not planning on buying anything).

Then having a clear path or set distance between each item will get them moving through faster than if there were no such path set up. What does this mean? 

It means that making sure all items are displayed with enough space around them so that people aren’t bumping into one another as much makes customers feel more comfortable spending more time in your store because there’s less chance of being hit by someone else while browsing!

Change the layout of your store so it encourages people who might not necessarily be interested in buying anything right now but might come back later after thinking about it more.

This will help increase revenue because those people end up coming back later when they’ve decided whether or not they need whatever item(s) triggered their initial interest earlier on.”

A deeper understanding of neuromarketing principles can elevate your marketing prowess. Explore the insights shared in 12 Neuromarketing Principles Every Marketer Should Be Familiar With to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of consumer behavior.


If you’re a retailer, be sure to use these techniques to make sure that your customers are getting the most out of their shopping experience. 

If you’re not, remember what you have read here so that next time you go into a store or restaurant, you know exactly how they are trying to manipulate your behavior so they can make more money off of us!

Further Reading

Expand your knowledge on persuasion techniques and consumer behavior with these additional resources:

Persuasion Marketing in E-commerce: Discover how persuasion strategies can be applied effectively in the e-commerce landscape to drive conversions and enhance the customer experience.

13 Persuasion Techniques to Boost Sales: Explore a comprehensive list of 13 persuasion techniques that can empower you to create more compelling marketing campaigns and capture customer attention.

Learning Persuasive Techniques: Gain insights into the art of persuasive communication and learn how to leverage these techniques to engage and influence your target audience.


What is persuasion marketing?

Persuasion marketing involves using psychological and strategic techniques to influence consumer decisions and behaviors, ultimately leading to increased sales and conversions.

How can I apply persuasion techniques in my marketing strategies?

To apply persuasion techniques effectively, consider understanding your target audience’s needs, utilizing social proof, crafting compelling narratives, and creating a sense of urgency.

What are some common persuasion triggers?

Common persuasion triggers include scarcity, authority figures’ endorsements, reciprocity, emotional appeals, and personalized recommendations.

How can persuasion techniques enhance e-commerce experiences?

Persuasion techniques can enhance e-commerce experiences by guiding customers through the decision-making process, addressing objections, and creating a seamless shopping journey.

Are there ethical considerations when using persuasion marketing?

Yes, ethical considerations are crucial. It’s essential to use persuasion techniques responsibly, ensuring transparency and honesty in your communication with customers.