How Supermarkets Fool You Into Buying More

Supermarkets and pricing

Supermarkets and pricing

I have to marvel at some of the psychological pricing “tricks” supermarkets use to “fool” us into buying more.

I was in the supermarket the other day, and I saw a 72 biscuit box of my favourite breakfast cereal, Weetabix, for £4.90. Now, since I don’t normally see boxes of that size (they normally come in smaller boxes of 24 biscuits), I assumed that was pretty decent value for money – and the average price in my local store for a smaller box was about £2, so I knew this was cheaper than my local store. (Locally, it would cost me £6 for the same number of biscuits).

But then I thought, “Wait… let me check”. So I looked at the price of the 24 biscuit boxes, and they were £1.50.

“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, puzzled. “I could buy 3 of these smaller boxes [3 x £1.50 = £4.50]… that would be the same number of biscuits as the larger box [£4.90], yet it would be cheaper!”

I grinned smugly to myself as I picked up 3 of the smaller boxes, thinking I had fooled the supermarket and saved myself 40 pence. (Oh, how wrong I was.)

I pointed this out to my brother, and then he said something that totally blew me away.

“So why are you buying 3 boxes?” he asked, casually.

At that moment, I suddenly realized how even more devilishly clever the supermarket was being. I had perceived that I was saving 40 pence by buying 3 individual boxes… but really, I was being “fooled” into buying 3 boxes when I didn’t need to!

At £1.50 for a box of 24 biscuits, I could just as easily have bought 1 or 2 of them… I didn’t need to buy all 3… but because I compared the price of 3 smaller boxes (£4.50) to the higher price of the larger 72 biscuit box (£4.90), I was “fooled” into thinking I’d be making a 40 pence saving by buying 3 smaller boxes!

“Fooled” is probably the wrong word, but the pricing was cleverly devised to get a poor sucker like myself to buy more than I might have done if the higher priced 72 biscuit box wasn’t there!

And if I hadn’t bothered calculating the values in my head, I may have ended up paying 40 pence more for the bigger box!

This highlights a principle I discussed in my report Pricing For Big Profits, that of the contrast principle – which shows that we often look at value in relative, rather than absolute terms.

It was this very principle that nearly led me to buy 3 boxes of Weetabix, when I didn’t really need to at all! I say “nearly”, because after I realized this, I put one of the boxes back… I didn’t need all 3!

I’d love to hear any stories like this that you might have. Please also feel free to share this post with your friends on Twitter.

How To Create Real, Compelling Urgency

In my last post we discussed what makes people buy now, rather than later… and I said that what was missing was a sense of overwhelming urgency.

The question is, how can you create that sense of urgency in the first place? I’ve written a free 24 page PDF report for you to download, entitled: “Buy Now! – How To Create Compelling Urgency”.

In it, I explore the 3 main ways of doing this:

  1. Explain the reasons why they should take action now, rather than later.
  2. Explain the consequences of not doing so.
  3. Create an offer which creates urgency in a credible way.

So please download and enjoy it. I recommend you download it to your computer, which you can do by right-clicking the link below, and selecting “Save Link As…” or “Save Target As…”

Right-click here to download the BuyNow.pdf report

What Makes People Buy Now?

buy-now-or-elseIt’s probably happened to you many times before.

You see something you really want to buy. You get all excited about it, and you’re even ready to buy.

And then something happens. Maybe you get distracted. Maybe you have second thoughts. Maybe you decide to put it off for a day or two.

Then, for whatever reason, you don’t buy it – either now, or at any time in the future – even though right at that moment you really wanted it.

So what was missing?

It was a sense of urgency. You had the desire, but you didn’t feel an overwhelming need to buy it right away – so you didn’t.

A real sense of urgency is the “missing ingredient” needed in a lot of sales letters and marketing campaigns that I see online.

Often there is no sense of urgency at all, leaving the potential customer to make up their mind as and when they feel like it. (The problem is, most people put things off, including buying decisions… meaning they are highly likely to forget about the offer.)

Or the sales letter goes to the other extreme, barking “Buy now!” commands repeatedly and attempting to generate a false sense of urgency – “Hurry, because I can’t hold these prices for much longer… I may put the price up at any time!”

The trouble with this is it’s vague, and therefore weak. “At any time” could mean days, weeks or months – or, as is more often the case, never.

What copywriters need to create is a genuine sense of urgency – the feeling that the potential customer MUST have it now, and that they will lose out if they don’t.

We’ll talk more about this another time, but I wanted to tell you that I’m just putting the finishing touches to a free report which will explain precisely how to create a genuine sense of urgency in your sales copy, or with any offer you make.

As a regular CopySnips reader, you’ll be the one of the first to get hold of this free report once I’ve finished it. If you’re not yet a regular reader, subscribe to the RSS feed or by email. Oh yes, you’d better do it now, or you’ll miss out on this crucial information, and will forever be tormented by thoughts of what might have been. Or something like that.