Expert Explains Why It’s Hard To Buy ‘Just One Thing’ At Target

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I mean, everyone who shops at Target knows the truth of this fact – no matter how good your intentions are when you walk in, the chances of you coming out with the one or two things you went in for (and nothing else) are basically zilch. Personally, if I make it out of Target with less than $100 worth of stuff in my cart, I count it as a win.

Photo Credit: Flickr,Mike Mozart

Now, the experts interviewed by Refinery29 – including Tom Meyvis, a New York University marketing professor – are backing us up with some science.

According to Meyvis, the Target juju starts with the enticing layout.

“Stores have an idea about the path shoppers take. Walmart was once famous for doing things like putting Band-Aids next to fishing hooks and things like that. Something you don’t naturally associate, but once you see them there, it makes sense. So when people come in for something in one category, you can cross-sell, you can sell them something that compliments in the next product category by making sure they’re right next to each other.”

Basically, Target designs their stores to help you find – and buy – what you didn’t realize you actually needed when you came into the store. Or something. A fact that seems to be confirmed by Refinery29’s interview with Target’s VP of Store Design, Joe Perdew.

“We know that some guests want to grab a coffee at Starbucks and explore the aisles, so we’ve added features like dynamic product vignettes throughout the store that help guests envision how things will fit into their lives. …in Home, products are cross-merchandised and displayed in lifestyle settings, so guests can imagine what they’ll look like in their own homes.”

It’s the reason you don’t see just a chair. You see a chair with a cute throw pillow sitting next to an end table with a picture frame and a lamp that complements everything else perfectly.

The bottom line, though, is that the layout, design, and colors at Target are inviting – they make us happy, which makes us want to stay, and the longer we stay, the more things go into our cart. At least, that’s what Kentucky psychologist Dr. Kevin Chapman says.

“It’s really well lit at Target, right? There’s a lot of color at Target. It’s pretty consistent throughout the store and generally that’s going to make people feel happier.”

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No one loves forking over their cash, but the experts seem to agree that all of the store’s design and marketing makes it hard for us to resist doing just that, and to feel good while we do it. I’m not sure whether that’s supposed to make me feel better or worse, but one thing’s for sure – heading to Target seems to be a recipe for a happy day.

At least, until you get your bank statement.