I’ve mentioned before my strange relationship with Kohl’s. For those of you who haven’t heard of the store, it’s basically a department store, with clothes, shoes, accessories, and housewares. And they are REALLY good at getting you into the store, and at using psychology to get you to buy.
I was made painfully aware of this fact today.
I knew I wanted to add a few new tops or maybe a light jacket or two to my wardrobe. I’d noticed I’ve been wearing the same 5 or so tops to work every week. I mean, I wash them in between. But I wanted to spice things up a little. So, Kohl’s knew just how to make sure I showed up and spent my money!
Method 1: Have a time-sensitive sale
Kohl’s has sales all the time. (And many people have asserted that they actually mark up prices before discounting them again.) But one of the really effective sales they have (in my opinion) is their Night Owl/Early Bird sales. On some weekends, the sales get REALLY big for only a few hours. The Night Owl sale lasts up until store closing on Friday night, and the Early Bird sale last until 1pm Saturday morning. Not the earliest of early birds. But still, for a weekend, you have to get up at a reasonable hour to get there.
I finally arrived around 10am or so and strolled around the store. I grabbed tons of stuff, brought them to the dressing room, and realized none of it looked good on me. So I went on a few more rounds, and found a few cute tops, plus a bunch of REALLY inexpensive wardrobe staples (i.e. camisoles and v-neck t-shirts). I knew that this is probably the lowest price I was going to see on these items in a long time, so I ended up stocking up and probably taking more than I should have. My reasoning? Buy them now at this price! Quick! Before the prices go back up!
Then, because of the mindset, I rushed to other parts of the store to see what other items I could grab up at their lowest prices. I picked up a new purse. Why? It was on sale. For only a few hours. Yeah, I know how crazy it sounds. But I assured myself that if I didn’t like it, I could just return it later. (Yeah right) Might as well buy it now at a really low price, just in case. CRAZY TALK.
Then, oh, don’t I need sneakers to wear on the weekends when I’m not wearing my running shoes? Of course I do! Why not grab a pair of Keds? Okay, if all else fails, I can return it. And it’s on sale. QUICK. THERE’S NO TIME! Sane part of my brain says: “What about just going to Payless? You don’t need anything fancy. Just something that doesn’t make you look like you’re in the middle of a 5k. ” I assure the sane part of my brain that I’ll check out Payless afterward. But that for now, I might as well buy them. SALE!!!!! (I do go to Payless later. I spot a pair for only $14.99. Do I buy them and return the Keds? Nope. Because I’m CRAZY. Or maybe lazy.)
So yeah. Sales can get you. You think you’re getting a deal. And when you realize that you only have a few hours to take advantage of that deal, you just run like a crazy person snatching up everything…JUST IN CASE!
Method 2: Send out occasional additional discounts at varying amounts
Well, the first problem was that they got me to sign up for their charge card a few years ago. So now I get discount coupons mailed to me on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes it’s for 15% off, sometimes 20%, and sometimes it’s the ever elusive 30%. As I’ve mentioned before, seeing that 30% off coupon, then thinking about things I “need” (but really, I just want) makes it hard to avoid shopping. “I’ll just take a look around…”
Knowing that this is the rare 30%, and knowing I can use it on top of the Early Bird sales, I’m pretty much done for. Plus, seeing a price at the store, I don’t actually take the time to calculate how much less it will actually be. I just see a price and think “hey, that’s a decent price, and it’ll be even better after 30% off”. Or, even worse, “it’s a little pricey, but it will be cheaper after 30% off! Yeah, that’s a bad mindset to have.
Method 3: Offer a reward that requires customers to come back again
Kohl’s also has a gimmick where they give you a $10 voucher for every $50 you spend. This both conditions you to spend more (“If I spend a few more dollars, I get 10 more dollars!”) and ensures that you’ll come back to spend that “free money”. And in my case, I also thought of the “extra” $10 as a consolation prize for spending too much.
I know. I’m not good at this game. But I’ve learned a few things about myself. I’m not good at avoiding these types of marketing techniques. And apparently, I like boatneck shirts with cap sleeves. And shades of blue and purple.
What stores or sale techniques trick you into spending? Do you shake your head and laugh at my inability to break free from Kohl’s clutches? Or sympathize with my unhealthy relationship with a store?