- Target has a way of getting customers to buy more than they intended – an experience so common, the internet has called it “the Target Effect.”
- If you’ve ever left Target with more than you planned on purchasing, it turns out, it’s not your fault – t he real genius behind this sale tactic starts with the store’s layout.
- Watch the video above to learn the sneaky ways Target gets customers to spend more.
Following is a transcript of the video:
Narrator: Have you ever been to Target expecting to buy one or two things, and then walked out hours later with much more than you planned?
Grant: You’re like oh, I didn’t know I needed this, and then you just pick it off the shelf, put it in your cart.
Jensen: I just spend so long there, it sucks me into a black hole.
Narrator: Yeah same. It’s a pretty common experience, and it’s become known on the internet as the “Target Effect.” But it’s more than just a popular meme. It turns out Target has a few ways of making sure you’ll want to take everything off the shelves.
You’ve probably noticed that it’s pretty hard to walk into Target, grab one thing and leave. The real genius behind that is in the store’s layout. When you walk in, you’ll likely see a Starbucks near the entrance. The coffee shop helps establish a welcoming vibe, inviting people to come in and hang out.
Once you walk past Starbucks, the store flows naturally from one section to the next, so you end up browsing through pretty much every aisle. Right by the makeup, you’ll find hair products. Next to hair products are the toiletries. Next to those are cleaning supplies and so on.
Say you’re planning on stopping by just to pick up something from the seasonal section like school supplies in August or Halloween costumes in October. For those, you’ll have to head to the back of the store.
Mary: So you’ll have to follow the store around and then you know, before you know it you’ve ended up filling up your entire cart with other stuff you didn’t plan to get.
Narrator: Visually, Target stands out from other big-box retailers like Walmart which can sometimes be disorganized in comparison.
Mary Hanbury: So Target’s known for having good, clear signage. That’s a kind of key way, you know, if shoppers know where they’re going. They don’t wanna get frustrated in the store. They can go straight there.
Narrator: The stores are brightly lit and colourful, the aisles are wide and the merchandise is spread out and well organised. That’s why Target is so enjoyable to shop at, which is why people end up spending more time there than they planned. And studies have shown that the more time customers spend in a store, the more likely they are to spend money.
Customers also love Target’s exclusive private labels which offer the latest trends for affordable prices. For example, its kids’ apparel line, Cat and Jack, surpassed two billion in sales just one year after its launch.
Mary: And these are often low cost and so people might buy a lot more than if they’re going to another store and it was just national brands.
Narrator: Partnerships with celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Chrissy Teigen also help drive traffic to the stores. But Target makes sure to constantly rotate its merchandise.
Mary: One of the most effective ways to make people spend money is to make them feel like this product is only gonna be available now. Like, if you come like, next week it’s not gonna be there. So buy it now.
Narrator: This feeds into a sort of treasure-hunt shopping experience typical of stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls. And if you’re having trouble finding something Target employees are easily spotted thanks to their red shirts.
Mary: If there’s someone there to advise you are more likely to buy things cause you can get a bit of an expert opinion. You’re not just shopping on your own.
Narrator: Then there’s Target’s social media game which is especially strong on Instagram. It has 3.1 million followers. That’s more than Walmart and Amazon combined. Target encourages shoppers to share photos of what they buy for a chance to be featured on its account. So people are always posting about their purchases.
Mary: It kinda brings the shopper in to the experience and there are loads of Target kinda fan pages dedicated to the store. Finally, near the cash registers, there’s what Target calls Bullseye’s Playground, where you’ll find seasonal items for only a few dollars.
Lauren: I would blame the dollar bins that are in the front.
Meryl: Like oh I always have a dollar to spend on some things.
Kara: Like I always get something there. And it’s like something stupid like a pencil holder.
Narrator: But NYU Professor Priya Raghubir says the real key to Target’s success is that you don’t actually regret buying anything. Those unplanned purchases, they’re often things people do want, they just haven’t thought of putting them on their shopping list. So what’s something you recently bought at Target that you weren’t planning on getting?
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