Are Your Five Senses Tricking You to Spend More?

By David Ning on 16 June 2010 (Updated 4 June 2014) 4 comments
Photo: LisaInGlasses

Our senses help provide input and perception to everything in the outside world. Without them, everything would be lifeless. But in a strictly financial sense (no pun intended), are they actually helping keep us in the poor house? Let's look at each more specifically and allow me to give you examples of what I mean.

1. Sight

Ahh, our eyes. The source of our sight is also the easier sense for marketers to tackle. Every time we see an advertisement, we are tempted to buy. See a newspaper ad with a huge 80% off sale? We want to hop in the car and head straight to the store. Love gadgets and see computer coupons online? Click click. To marketers, it sounds like this: "cha-ching."

2. Hearing

Every business owner will tell you that "word of mouth," or referrals, are the best way to gain customers. When was the last time you heard your friend talk about how great a product was that you ended up NOT buying. iPhone 4G? Most people bought one without even seeing one. That's powerful. Listen to enough good reviews, and you will buy.

3. Taste

Yum yum. Good food almost never escapes me. Is it really a surprise that restaurants try to make everything flavorful by adding more sugar and salt even at an expense of our health? They aren't out to get us, but they do want more business. When something taste good, you will come back. Imagine a restaurant where they serve bad food. In fact, what if they publicize it in their slogan "We make healthy food that has no taste!" Would you go back again and again? Actually, would you go even once?

4. Smell

Have you been tempted to host a barbeque of your own just because your neighbor just had one and you could smell it from your back yard? I have. Sometimes, I would ask the waiter what that dish was because I smelled something good, turned around and saw a dish being taken to another table. "Give me one more please."

5. Touch

Touching and seeing are the best two ways to determine quality of a product. Products such as clothing, hand bags, and furniture are some examples where the quality can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, the higher the quality, the higher the price tag. You will absolutely get higher quality leather by paying more, but you probably won't be healthier because you bought a $20,000 sofa instead of the $500 one.

Oh No!

Life would be pretty meaningless without our five senses, but instead of calling it quits and just declaring that life plain sucks because they help you spend more, you can think of it this way:

Our senses give us the opportunity to choose. We can feel the quality before we purchase. We could make sure we eat what smells, looks and taste good. And before we decide on buying anything, we can ask around and listen to other people's experiences with a certain service or product.

Like everything else, our senses can trick us into spending more, or it can help us spend less. The decision is almost always up to you. Life is great, because you can still decide.

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Guest's picture
Miguel

I like the post David. Thanks!

Guest's picture

That's a fun way of thinking of things.
I'd also point out that factors such as sight, smell, sound, etc... are used in stores to entice us to buy.
I might not be crazy about a dress I see in Anthropologie, for example (it might not fit me well, or it might be a bit beyond my budget), but it's so PRETTY in there, and there is such nice music, and there are such pleasant smells wafting through the well-lit dressing rooms anyway that I end up buying the dress anyway.
Stores are really smart about enticing out senses- it used to just be sight, but now it's sound and smell too- among other factors. So it's indeed important to consider how these factors might be influencing our purchase decisions!

Guest's picture
Clayton

Advertisers use our senses to create a desire to need something in our mind. By learning to be content with yourself and what you have, you will lessen the effects that all of the advertising will have on you. That's why all the advertising makes things look so wonderful.

Guest's picture

This definitely made me think. Our senses are important but maybe sometimes (most of the time?) we should listen to our brains instead of our senses.