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3 Weird Ways to Get Customers to Spend More

There's an entire field dedicated to studying how to nudge consumers to spend more--and it has come up with some pretty bizarre findings.

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Some of the quirkiest things can make consumers more willing to part with their paychecks. Did you know, for example, that red is supposedly the best color for fast-food restaurants? At least, that's what so-called "color consultants" suggest. Never mind that human behavior is hardly consistent and the psychology of color is less than scientific.

There's an entire field dedicated to deciphering who spends what, when, and why--and it's come up with some pretty bizarre conclusions about how business owners might boost sales with subtle environmental suggestions. You decide whether they're worth the effort.

Let there be light.

Sunlight makes people happy. And happy people spend more money. That was the rationale behind a study performed by the University of Alberta investigating the effects of sun lamps on consumer spending. Students at the university who were exposed to a sun lamp while browsing were willing to pay 38 percent more for green tea, 21 percent more for a carton of orange juice, 27 percent more for a gym membership, 29 percent more for an airline ticket, and 56 percent more for a newspaper than their sun lamp-deprived counterparts.

Play it cool.

Risk-takers know how to keep their cool in high-stakes situations. In fact, they rely on it. Researchers at the University of Virginia and University of Houston found that gamblers--in the form of Missouri daily lottery consumers--were less willing to risk their hard earned cash when the temperatures increased.

According to the study, daily sales of Missouri Lottery scratch tickets in St. Louis County decreased by $594 for every 1-degree increase in Fahrenheit temperature. The reason? The psychologically depleting rise in temperature appears to decrease consumers' willingness to play complex games, researchers say.

Deal in green.

Cash may be king, but the efficiency of virtual payment methods, credit cards, and debit cards certainly threaten to dethrone the monarch. And that would be a shame, say researchers from Virginia Tech University.

Previous research into the psychology behind spending habits has revealed that consumers are less willing to part with cash than credit--but there's a catch. When it comes to food, customers who paid in cash, not credit, consumed 45 percent more calories than their peers. Folks who spend cash--which they view as a more painful move than charging it to a credit card--are more willing to indulge to alleviate the negative mood brought on by too much spending, the researchers say.

Sounds like great news for food brands... unless, you delve into more research on the topic. Another study claims cash customers remain stingy with their money even after making--and splurging--on a food purchase.

Last updated: May 6, 2013

FRANCESCA FENZI reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle.
@FrancescaFenzi




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