top of page

Marketing tricks that go unnoticed

Diane Hall


Most business owners want their marketing efforts to be visible and easily seen. However, some techniques used by designers and retailers influence us to buy/act without us even realising.


They’re the masters of psychological marketing. Having the bakery near the door, for instance, makes customers’ senses kick in so they buy more. For example, you may not think you’re particularly hungry when nipping into your local store, but once you smell the fresh bread baking, your stomach will say differently. If you’re hungry, more of the foodstuff will appeal and you’ll find yourself putting more in your basket than you’d planned.

Positioning of products

Supermarket product positioning

Supermarket product positioning

By putting milk at the far end of the shop—the lack of which causes most of us to nip to the shop—you’ll walk past thousands of products to reach it. If said products are attractively displayed and enticing, you’ll be more likely to pick them up, too. If the milk was right by the door, many of us would have no need to come any further into the shop.

Where products are placed on the shelf is by design rather than a random decision. As shoppers, we automatically focus on products at eye-level. Stores ensure their higher-priced items meet our eyelines, as we’re then more likely to notice them and put them in our basket. Their basic ranges and the goods they make a lower profit on will be on the very top or bottom shelves.


A price ending in £xx.99 is a common trick to make it appear cheaper. Though there may be only a penny difference between something priced at £6.99 and £7.00, we place more attention on the first figure, and therefore perceive the £6.99 price to be much less.

This isn’t the origin of ‘99p pricing’, though, despite the impact it has on our brains. Many, many years ago, retailers were convinced that, if something was priced at a round pound, the cashier could pocket the money with little comeback. By making the price 99p, if a pound was handed over to pay for the product (very likely), the cashier would have to open the till to get the customer’s change, thereby recording the sale.


Colour chart

Colour chart

Red is good for hammering home a price deal as it creates urgency—it’s also said to increase our appetites. According to Homestead, blue represents security; it’s also favoured by men, apparently, and it suggests calm, because we think of water. Green is linked to harmony, nature and wealth; purple is luxurious, and it makes us think of royalty. White, as you’d imagine, suggests purity and cleanliness.

By knowing what each colour evokes within us helps marketers and designers influence our buying decisions.


The lack of a product can increase its appeal. Research has shown that, psychologically, it’s hard wired into us to want something we can’t have.

When the supply of something is scarce, the demand for it, and its price, tends to be high. If something is in abundance, prices typically drop; consumers don’t get FOMO if a particular item is available everywhere they look.

Sometimes, a product is purposely suggested to the public to be scarce in order to increase demand for it. It’s not that more of the item couldn’t physically be made or manufactured, it’s just by restricting the availability of an item, more profit can be made, and its apparent exclusivity can have people queuing to buy it as soon as it becomes available.

These are just a few of the many ‘invisible’ marketing tricks retailers use to subconsciously influence our buying decisions. Can you think of more? Tweet us at @intheknowemag

Want your article or story on our site? Contact us here

bottom of page