You know how it goes: you go into Target to buy one thing, like laundry detergent or a new salt shaker, and walk out with a shopping car full of products you probably didn’t need (but that are cute!). It’s an on-going online joke that people like to call “The Target Effect,” but guess what? It’s a real-life thing, and there’s actually a scientific reason it happens.
Let’s just get one thing straight: Target knows what it’s doing. The superstore is known for having just about everything you could ever need, and its done plenty of research to understand the path shoppers take when they go into a store. While you might sometimes see two seemingly unlike objects placed near each other in one of the aisles, there’s a certain logic behind everything.
Tom Meyvis, a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, told Refinery29 that there’s a reason stores do this. For instance, Walmart famously used to place bandaids next to the fishing hooks, and while they’re not two objects you might immediately associate with one another, they are both products you’ll probably need during the same outing. Superstores like Target know that placement can help them cross-sell complimentary products.
Speaking of placement, there’s a reason the dollar section and so many discounted objects are placed near the front of the store, usually near checkout. According to psychologist Dr. Kevin Chapman, you’re more likely to buy something if you think you’re getting a deal, and when you think you’re saving money, you’re more likely to buy even more objects.
Within this same vein, Target utilizes a marketing strategy called “psychological pricing,” which is why you’ll often see products sold for $9.99 instead of rounding up to $10. It’s only the matter of a single cent, but we’re much more likely to respond to the lower number, even with the added change.
Of course, it definitely helps that Target understands its client base, which is why they stock up on so many aesthetically pleasing objects. If I could furnish my apartment solely with Target decor, trust me, you know I would.
So next time you go to Target and you’re worried about breaking your bank, just keep this in mind: just because you’re saving money on buying an item doesn’t mean your saving money altogether — you’re still spending money on something you weren’t planning to buy in the first place. But if you just need a good outing for some retail therapy, let me tell you: Target is the place to be.