Savvy Library

How to Bypass Marketing and be a Savvy Shopper

With so much choice available, and the temptations pushed on people by marketing, it’s a wonder we’re not all spent out every week! Marketing is all around us, in every form of media, and the messages they send out are designed to lure you into buying the product being advertised. Very often it’s not something you need, or even want; you’ve just been seduced by the power of the marketer’s talent. Impulse buys and the purchase of items you could have gotten for less can make you feel down after the excitement has worn off; but how do you avoid getting drawn into marketing campaigns?

Shopping mantras

Self-control is bound to play a part in resisting the pull of clever marketing because, without it, you’d buy anything that took your fancy. The good news is that you show a level of self-control every day, just by living your normal life. Getting up, going to work, getting the kids to school, cooking, showering; you do all those things because you have sufficient self-control to stop you laying in bed all day eating chocolate. To resist marketing, you just need to boost your self-control a little. Try using a simple mantra:

Can I afford it? Do I need it? Is it good value for money?

If it’s not an item you need at this point in time, you can choose to walk away. If you’ve plenty of disposable income, then you can buy whatever you can pay for, but if you haven’t got an awful lot of spare cash, make sure it’s something you need before going any further. If it is something you need, is this option the best value you can get? Would you be able to save by shopping around? Even if the advertised item sounds like a bargain, it’s always worth checking to see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

Checking out deals and prices

Adverts are designed to make you want to buy the item in the ad, not go off and get the same or a similar thing from somewhere else. It could be that the advertised deal is good value for money, but that’s not something you can assume. Make it a rule always to check the alternatives, and don’t forget about loyalty schemes, vouchers, and discounts you may have that you could use to offset the purchase price. There are many useful websites out there that gather all the latest information about current deals and low prices, and some cover a wide range of different products. It saves you the bother of trawling the Internet in search of bargains, as these sites have done all the hard work for you. You can click here to see an example of such a site. There are also bulk discount websites that offer big savings on a variety of products and experiences, and although you can never be sure what you’re going to find from day to day, it’s always worth a quick check to see if what you want to buy is featured at that time.

New or old?

Unless it’s marketing campaign being run by an antique business, you’ll find that everything being promoted in the media is brand new. If you feel hooked into always buying new, consider the many benefits of second-hand and used products. You can often get far better quality goods by buying used items, whether it’s furniture or clothes. Have a browse on a resale site like eBay, and you’ll see there are some amazing bargains to be had, including designer items for very low prices. You can also use services like Freecycle that offer unwanted items for free to anyone who can collect them. It might sound like you’d only get someone’s old trash, but it’s remarkable what good quality items are offered because people don’t want the hassle of trying to sell them. Remember, new has its place, but used can be a valuable supplement and could save you enough cash to splash out on a treat or a vacation. It’s also a wise thing to do from an ecological point of view, as it helps to avoid so much waste in what has become something of a throwaway society.

Choosing your purchases wisely

The other problem with marketing is that it can tempt you into buying more of something than you need, and if you like your bargains, the offer of a two for one product can be almost irresistible. This is where you need to stop yourself before grabbing what you’re being told is a great deal. First of all, is this a product you would have bought anyway? If you regularly buy tinned tomatoes and the store is pushing an offer where you can buy two tins for the price of one, that is a sensible purchase. It’s something you will use, and it won’t go out of date too quickly (just check the dates on the tins to be sure though!). An offer of three packs of bagels for the price of two, however, will only be worthwhile if you like bagels, eat them regularly, and can either use or freeze them before they go stale. Otherwise, you’ll be left with food that doesn’t get used, wasting your money and contributing to avoidable food waste. You also need to be a bit savvy about what the marketing message is telling you. Although there are regulations that aim to stop businesses claiming price reductions that aren’t real, in practice, this kind of thing does still go on. So if you see a couch advertised at fifty percent off, first of all, check that it was on sale for the higher price for a reasonable period, and then check that similar items aren’t just as good value for money, if not better, elsewhere.

They say don’t believe the hype, and there’s wisdom in those words. Marketing is based on years of study of consumer behavior and psychology, and its purpose is to make you part with your cash. Before you believe the hype, just take a moment to check that your bargain is really that.


  • Tamra Phelps

    This is right up my alley. I’ve learned the hard way not to trust marketing. Shop cautiously, lol.

  • Denise Low

    Thank you for sharing. I check the prices on the generic and the well known brands and the ingredients to compare.

  • Christina Gould

    These are great ideas. I rarely go to stores anymore so I’m not tempted. Thanks for posting!

  • Deborah D

    These are some of the questions I find that I ask myself. I have pretty good self control when in stores.

  • Sue E

    You points are right on the money!! I used to be an impulse shopper! If I thought I had a real bargain, and I wanted it, I would buy it! Rationalizing to myself that at least I picked it up when it was on sale – whether I needed it or not! Advertising has gotten a lot more appealing! Now I ask myself 3 questions before I buy anything on the spur of the moment. 1) Do I love it? 2) Do I need it?
    3) Can I afford it? If there is a NO for anyone of those questions than NO SALE!

  • Lauryn R

    These are fantastic points that we should all be thinking about when shopping! I used to have no self control when shopping, but I find that writing lists before I go really helps me. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Emma Anderson

    Great tips! Here’s mine– I shop for “wants” before “needs.” Walking around with something in my cart lets me further evaluate whether or not I can live without it. Instead of picking things I want up off of impulse, I add it to my wishlist to consider on my next shopping trip. Avoiding impulse purchases is the most important thing I do to control my spending.

  • Daleine Kissinger

    I love this article and need to refer to it often. I have low income right now, but I’m used to being able to buy things without any worry, so I could stock up on sale prices, etc.; however, now I need to walk on by those things that I do no need no matter what. It’s just to sink into my brain.