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Georgia State University

The Science Behind the Sale

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The December, 2015 issue of the Atlantic ran an article by Eleanor Smith titled Why You Bought That Ugly Sweater. The article summarizes findings from several research studies that discuss how retailers manipulate shoppers into buying merchandise that they don’t necessarily want or need. Lighting, music, layout, wall color, scents, and other subtle factors can all play a significant role in how much consumers spend at retail store. Even a sales clerk’s rude behavior can cause shoppers to buy more!

Don’t be fooled into buying another ugly sweater. As you wrap up your holiday shopping you might want to take a look at the studies reviewed in this article. All are available below through the Georgia State University Library:

Rodway, P. J. (2012). Preferring the One in the Middle: Further Evidence for the Centre-stage Effect. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 26(2), 215-222.

Coulter, K. S., Choi, P., & Monroe, K. B. (2012). Comma N’ cents in pricing: The effects of auditory representation encoding on price magnitude perceptions. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22(3), 395-407.

Anderson, E., & Simester, D. (2003). Effects of $9 Price Endings on Retail Sales: Evidence from Field Experiments. Quantitative Marketing & Economics, 1(1), 93-110.

Ariely, D., Loewenstein, G., & Prelec, D. (2003). ‘Coherent Arbitrariness’: Stable Demand Curves without Stable Preferences. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, (1). 73.

Hadar, L., & Sood, S. (2014). When Knowledge Is Demotivating: Subjective Knowledge and Choice Overload. Psychological Science, 25(9), 1739-1747.

Ward, M. K., & Dahl, D. W. (2014). Should the Devil Sell Prada? Retail Rejection Increases Aspiring Consumers’ Desire for the Brand. Journal Of Consumer Research, 41(3), 590-609.

Dahl, D. W., Argo, J. J., & Morales, A. C. (2012). Social Information in the Retail Environment: The Importance of Consumption Alignment, Referent Identity, and Self-Esteem. Journal Of Consumer Research, 38(5), 860-871.

Poon, T., & Grohmann, B. (2014). Spatial density and ambient scent: Effects on consumer anxiety. American Journal of Business, 29(1), 76-94.

Hadi et al., “Mental Thermoregulation.” European Conference of the Association for Consumer Research in Barcelona, 2013.

Babin, B. J., Hardesty, D. M., & Suter, T. A. (2003). Color and shopping intentions: The intervening effect of price fairness and perceived affect. Journal of Business Research, 56(7), 541-551.

Grohmann, B., Spangenberg, E. R., & Sprott, D. E. (2007). The influence of tactile input on the evaluation of retail product offerings. Journal of Retailing, 83(2), 237.

Yalch, R. F., & Spangenberg, E. R. (2000). The Effects of Music in a Retail Setting on Real and Perceived Shopping Times. Journal of Business Research, 49(2), 139-147.

Petruzzellis, L., Chebat, J., & Palumbo, A. (2014). “Hey Dee-Jay Let’s Play that Song and Keep Me Shopping All Day Long”: The Effect of Famous Background Music on Consumer Shopping Behavior. Journal Of Marketing Development & Competitiveness, 8(2), 38-49.