From the pleasant music to the choice of floor tiles, retail stores are cleverly designed to do one thing: make you spend money.

A retailer’s store environment is almost never arbitrary. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than at the Apple Store, where every detail is well thought out. The laptop screens are all adjusted precisely to the same exact 70 degree angle—not just for uniformity and aesthetics, but, according to Forbes, to get you to adjust the screen—touch the computer and get engaged with it. Studies have shown that people are more likely to buy products if they touch them. To create an “ownership experience” and more brand loyalty with customers, the Apple Store encourages customers to start using any device as they want in the store, and even the trainers in “One to One” workshops don’t touch the computer, but instead guide you to find your own solutions.

Other more or less subtle tactics are used by other retailers. Men’s Health lists a bunch of marketing maneuvers and store design choices that are designed to manipulate us. Bloomingdale’s floor tiles are 12 inches square – the size encourages people to walk quicker which prevents the entrances from looking overcrowded, their numerous restaurants send pleasant aromas throughout the store, increasing the amount of time customers shop and making them about 35% more likely to spend money, according to the article. Men’s dressing room doors and ceilings are unusually high to convey a sense of power to guys and make them buy more clothing. An unusual atmosphere with a lot of props in some stores (down to the employee wearing what looks to be a backstage pass) is meant to make you feel like you’re part of a special club.

Sometimes retailers use the “compromise-price effect” to get you to pay more for a better item. They’ll place a relatively expensive item (e.g., a camera) next to one that’s priced out of reach for most people, persuading you to buy the cheaper one—even though it’s still expensive. Or they’ll place a cheap item no one would buy next to the one they want you to buy, according to Smart Money.

Even grocery stores are designed like an obstacle course, with pre-made desserts and chocolate bars blocking your path at every turn and higher-priced items stocked at eye level.

All this has got me thinking how do we encourage people to engage when they arrive at church – is this something we should be doing in our churches or is it a step too far – what do you think?

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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