Just buying that first, seemingly innocent item “opens the purchasing floodgates,” a Standford Graduate School of Business study shows.
Once you’ve spent time weighing the costs and benefits of your first purchase and decide to go for it, a psychological trigger switches on, meaning you’ve entered the buying phase.
“Once that happens, a roller roaster of shopping can begin,” said Uzma Khan, a head researchers on the study.
The momentum only increases the longer you’re in the store, which helps to explain why stores position practical items like newspapers or umbrellas toward the front of their shops. In other words, they’re brainwashing you.
Consumers will grab the items as they head to the register, and once someone decides to buy that newspaper, for example, the shopping momentum makes him that more likely to pick up a guilty pleasure like a chocolate bar.
That’s also why stores have fewer checkouts, with most registers in the same section. It gives people less of an opportunity to deliberate, allowing the momentum to run its course. Ka-ching!