How Can I Be A Minimalist When I Have Shopping To Do?

How Can I Be A Minimalist When I Have Shopping To Do?

We had a great Minimal Quest meeting mid-summer at the Goose Restaurant in Darien. Fabulous conversation with appetizers and drinks and a group of men and women interested in simplifying their lives. Our topic was shopping! Some love it, some loathe it, but all of us need to shop for ourselves, our families and maybe for our professional life. The average American shops 281 hours each year which equals 12 full days! That’s a lot of time. We know the stores study our habits for hits on how to increase our spending habits. Here are the top “10 Subliminal Tricks Retailers Use” from Money Magazine.

  1. They make you nostalgic. Families, puppies, childhood. Recent research shows nostalgia makes people value money less and feel willing to pay more for purchases.
  1. They sic rude salespeople on you. People who shop at high end stores want to belong and be part of that crowd. They are willing to withstand rudeness if they can obtain the object.
  1. Smaller packaging. Cute and mini makes us consume and buy more.
  1. They get you lost and confused. It’s not an accident that grocery stores are often laid out unintuitively.
  1. They mimic your gestures—and get women to touch you. A woman’s touch—but not a man’s—makes people of either sex looser with their money, so when that saleswoman touches your shoulder, you may unwittingly end up spending more.
  1. They get you to handle the merchandise. Research shows your willingness to pay more increases as you spend more time looking at and holding objects. This is why the display item is the best seller.
  1. They create the illusion of bulk bargains. Researcher Lindstrom found that adding the sentence “maximum 8 cans per customer” to the price tag of soup cans caused sales to jump, even if no true discount was offered, because it gave the illusion of one.
  1. They give you free treats. Consuming even one free chocolate increased shoppers’ desire for nonfood luxuries—including expensive watches, dressy designer shirts, and Mac laptops—right after eating it, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
  1. They drop the dollar sign. If you think the plain old “28” rather than “$28” on the menu of your favorite fancy restaurant is simply designed to look chic and minimalist, think again. A Cornell study found that a format that leaves off dollar signs and even the word dollar gets people to spend 8% more at restaurants.
  1. They carefully engineer store ambiance. Ambient sounds and smells can make you less careful with your cash. In an appliance store, researcher Lindstrom pumped in the smell of an apple pie, and the sales of ovens and fridges went up 23%. He also found that alternating German and French music in a wine shop influenced which bottles customers purchased.

This I can’t source as I learned it a long time ago but it always stuck with me. Retailers try to control the rate at which we blink! Yes blink! Why? Because our blink rate indicates how relaxed we are. The more relaxed the less we blink the longer we stay in the store and the more we spend. So, retailers want us to blink slower while shopping. Music, stores without windows, interesting displays all are part of this game.

Shopping sounds simple but look at what we are up against! Don’t get me wrong. I love marketing and advertising. The commercials are often more interesting then the shows. I don’t necessarily want it to work on me though. It is the creativity that sparks me, not so much the product.

It’s them and their research against little ole us. What chance do we have? Our discussion group of Professional Organizers and attendees came up with these ideas:

  • Don’t succumb to “amygdala high jacking.” This term is from the Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Golemman. It is when your logical brain is overpowered by your emotions. Don’t let your emotions take charge of the shopping trip. If you have limitations of space, time, and funds then logic needs to take the lead.
  • Not buying more then you need. Don’t fall for the 8 for a $10 if you only need 2.
  • Don’t let coupons draw you into a store. Kohl’s Cash and the CVS coupons were mentioned.
  • Limit your shopping time. Set an alarm on your phone. Don’t linger.
  • Shopping and therapy are not the same. The average American polled spends a whopping $1,652 per year on purchases just to cheer themselves up. Find other ways to self soothe.
  • Make a list and stick to it.

And this session was just store shopping. We will discuss online and TV shopping some time in the future. Stay tuned.

What the attendees learned about the Professional Organizers:

We are human too! While this set of Professional Organizers are an organized bunch (note that not all PO’s are!), we have areas of struggle too (shoes and office supplies to name a few.) Organizing takes time for us too. We need to focus on this just as you do.

Future Minimal Quest meetings and topics: 

Please check the Events page on my website.

A professional organizer for more than 18 years, Susan Lovallo, CPA, CPO, works with individuals and businesses to help them declutter, simplify and establish or streamline systems. Whether you are organizing your home, business, or financials, the result is greater productivity with less effort, providing more time to enjoy life. Clients appreciate Susan’s easy and effective solutions and financial expertise, as well as her patience, compassion and sense of humor.