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12 subtle tricks advertisers use to lure customers

Anyone who’s ever taken a young child into a store knows the most tempting treats are right at their wee eye level, but that’s only one of the ways we’re convinced to buy products without even realizing it.

Liz Stinson at Wired gives us a glimpse behind the advertising curtain with these twelve hidden tricks those in the biz use to convince us to spend our precious dollars where they wish them to go. For a more in-depth examination of these and a host of other techniques, check out the book of creative director and psychologist Marc Andrews, Hidden Persuasion

While you may still be fooled, playing “find the trick” in the grocery store will provide a great distraction from the kids screaming for sugary treats.


Every face you see in an ad is carefully selected based on lots of criteria. One of those things? How trustworthy that person looks. We rely on visual cues to unconsciously figure out how we feel about something, and it turns out some people just look more trustworthy than others. Beyond obvious signifiers like a creepy mustache, things like facial width-to-height ratio (the distance between the two extremes of the cheekbones and the distance from the upper lip to the eyebrows) can clue us in to how trustworthy a person is. People with higher faces are perceived as more trustworthy than those with wide faces, as are brown eyes versus blue.


If you’ve ever bought airline tickets on Kayak, you’ve undoubtedly seen the little alert telling you “Only 1 ticket left at this price!” Nothing kicks you into buying mode like the fear of paying more for the same product or missing out on it altogether.

Turns out, FOMO extends to buying stuff, too. Andrews says this is partially because it’s been ingrained in our minds that the expensive things tend to be scarce (gold, diamonds). Scarcity also suggests that other people like the product (hello, social proof). Andrews writes that the last reason scarcity technique works so well is that it reminds us that our freedom of choice will soon be gone.

Full story at Wired.

The psychology of advertising.

Graphics credit: Canva

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