5 Common Sales Tactics Retailers Use to Manipulate You

a woman shopping at a retail store in Kenya

a woman shopping at a retail store

Do You Know the Sales Tactics that Top Retailers Use to Manipulate Customers?

  • Retailers use a variety of sales tactics to influence buyers’ purchasing decisions.
  • Retailers frequently leverage psychological triggers and marketing strategies to increase sales.
  • Understanding these tactics can help buyers make more informed purchasing decisions.
  • Retailers use various techniques to entice customers to buy, including limited-time offers, persuasive pricing strategies, strategic product placements, and targeted advertising.
  • Knowing these tactics allows consumers to approach shopping critically and make decisions that align with their needs and values.
  • To help you avoid falling for retailers’ tricks, here is a list of the most common tactics they use to increase sales.


Retailers use this classic sales tactic to trick buyers into thinking they are saving. Here, your favourite supermarket places a discounted price next to the “suggested” price. For example, you can find a price label like Buy for KSh. 2,156. Was KSh. 2,957. Save Ksh. 801. This appears simple and advantageous to the customer, but the product has not been discounted; it is simply the store’s chosen price.


Goldilocks Pricing

This sales tactic is also known as good–better–best pricing. In this case, the retailer uses differentiation to offer three versions of the same or nearly identical products but pricing them differently: one low-cost, one mid-range, and one higher priced. So, the customer may believe they have found an exceptional deal and choose the mid-range version for quality over the lower price, but not as costly as the high-end version.

Goldilocks Pricing

Buy two, get one…Free

Buy-two, get-one-free is a clever sales tactic because they compel buyers to spend more than planned. They trick buyers into thinking they get the second item at half the price. This might be true, but you only intended to buy one, and now you’re spending the extra money on two.

Buy two, get one…Free


Spaving is a slang word that refers to spending money to save money. When ordering online, for example, you may add more items to your cart to save time and cash on delivery fees, but the seller makes more sales in the process. Another example is buying an annual subscription to a service instead of paying monthly. Buyers often purchase high-quality products that last for decades rather than replacing lower-quality products every few years for the same reason.

Spending more money now to save money in the long run can be a wise decision. However, spaving typically has a negative connotation because it leads to impulse purchases rather than deliberate decisions.


Limited-time Offers

This sales tactic lures buyers to act quickly, or they will miss out! In this case, retailers urge buyers to take advantage of a fantastic deal, forcing them to spend money on items they might not have noticed or spent the money in the first place. Companies can create scarcity in various ways to make buyers feel compelled to act quickly and buy something. For example, an item might be on sale, but only two are remaining. Alternatively, you may be given a limited-time coupon or see a giant clock ticking away until a sale ends.

limited time offers

Offering social proof

Consumers are more likely to trust the opinions and experiences of others who have used a product or service before making a buying decision. In this sales tactic, retailers build trust with their customers and increase credibility for their products or services by showcasing testimonials, reviews, influencer endorsements, expert opinions, and user-generated content. By highlighting positive feedback and experiences from satisfied customers, businesses can create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) and encourage potential customers to take action.


social proof


Let us know in the comments which of these sales tactic you have fallen victim to the most.


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