Buy, Buy, Buy!
The American market works to mold us into compulsive shoppers through a careful attack using psychology.
The battle for our money begins long before we even step foot in the store. Commercials at home begin the initial bombardment with a control on sound; they turn up the broadcast volume on commercials to catch our attention, then while they've got us they proceed to use jingles and sometimes cleverly phrased sentences to shove the product into your brains. Finally they present us with an easily recognizable character that will win us over visually and help to remind us at the store which of those little products we should make sure to take home the next time we go shopping.
Phase Two: Our lists are made and were now ready to venture into our preferred shopping locations. As soon as you step into any store your eyes will most likely dart to the biggest, nearest "ON SALE" sign. Your mind is still fresh on the list, however, so you ignore the signs and go about gathering the items on your list. That is until your favorite song comes on. You now start to wander about the store as you focus more on the song than your shopping list. Now we find a bigger flashier SALE sign and since our brains are fairly distracted we start to think that this item might actually be worth buying, especially since it's on sale! That's one impulse item added to the list. Now we find the item that captivated us earlier on TV and so that's two items we didn't really need in the basket.
Now comes the part that every parent dreads, the color items just down low enough so that your child can reach. The employees have very carefully placed these items at mid level and used a technique called "facing". Facing is the process of pulling items as close to the edge of the shelf as possible; I spend hours in CVS "facing" for my hourly wage. Your child can now grab this item and proceed to give you hell until you finally cave in and put unnecessary item number three into your basket.
For the final part of this battle we find ourselves at the register. As the cashier slowly rings us up we start looking around at the small, cheap things we find at the counter. None of these items are necessary for our daily survival but you've always wanted to have one of those CD-plastic cover-openers and so unnecessary item number four falls into our hands. Now as a final act to ensure we don't think twice we have our handy-dandy credit cards. Instead of watching the very real absence of bills in your wallet you just look at an abstract number on a screen and flash your credit card to pay for these items in less than five seconds flat.
Now not all shopping sprees take place exactly like this but I'm sure everyone has gone through some similar experiences before so let's try to stick to our shopping lists and leave the children at home.