How the “illusion of Demand” Makes You Buy Things You Don’t Need

We know that companies have many ways to make you think you need to buy something, but one of the more frustrating tricks is the “demand illusion.” As BBC Future points out, this illusion gives the impression that you are missing something, even if you are not.

The demand illusion works differently, but the classic example is old commercials that said something like, “If the operators are busy, please call again.” This is based on the idea that we tend to turn to others for information about our own solutions. If it’s not enough or people are lining up to buy it, then it’s probably a good thing. BBC Future points to one experiment showing how this works:

In another series of experiments, Burger and his colleague David Caldwell demonstrated that people are more likely to take action when they feel they have a unique opportunity to do so. In one study, for example, participants spent time evaluating products commonly sold on US college campuses, including an insulated travel mug. Subsequently, when the study appeared to be over, the researchers mentioned to the participants that the mugs were actually being sold at a discounted price. Some participants were simply encouraged to donate money, while others were told that there were not enough mugs and that they could only buy one if they pulled the qualifying ticket out of the hat. In fact, all tickets were marked with a symbol allowing members to buy a mug. Of course, the participants in the “lottery” more often offered to buy a mug.

This is a fairly common sales method, especially during tech launches when supplies are tight and people are struggling to buy new gadgets as close to launch as possible. This is a simple manipulation tactic that you can counter by simply spending a few extra minutes wondering if you really want to buy something or if you are only interested because everyone else wants it.

The Subtle Science of Sales – A Six-Step Guide | Bbc future

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