Before I had a Costco membership I would always find myself in the middle of a bunch of guys having a conversation about how they went into Costco with the plan of buying 1 or 2 items but instead they walked out with $500 worth of merchandise, only to realize that they did not even need most of the stuff they bought. Not having a membership like them I didn’t really pay too much attention to their story, rather, I would try to tie in one my similar experiences but it didn’t come close to it. Finally I bought a house and realized that I should probably get a Costco membership like all the cool kids in town! I got my membership and was able to enter the golden palace, where I could buy everything that I needed for my house at a discount! After a few trips, I noticed that I began to do the same thing that I would hear others doing at Costco, buying more things than what I originally intended. I was able to notice that my own shopping behavior was now mirroring what the other cart pushing shoppers were doing at Costco, filling up the cart! After realizing what I was doing, I realized that I needed to change my shopping behavior and not make the mistake like everyone else.
I was able to learn of what I now call the “Costco Mind”. After learning about this behavior, I learned that it’s a large pool of Costco consumers that have this same behavior, where they enter Costco with a specific shopping list containing an exact amount of items, but instead walk out with more than what they needed only to regret their purchase at home while telling themselves that “It was a good deal”.
#1- Sharing the guilt with other shoppers
Instead of focusing on the guilt feeling while shopping, the mind tends to put the focus on the overall shopping experience. Observing other like-minded shoppers walk up and down aisles that they have no business in, the mind begins to follow and copy the behavior. If the shopper was in the store by himself, the chances of filling up his cart would slim down since the visual eye does not observe other shoppers topping out their cart. Since the shopper has such a large support system of other over spenders, the chances of falling victim to the same behavior are much higher.
#2- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Telling yourself that this deal is too good to pass up, you might not need it now but Costco might not carry it in the future and you’re sure you might need it sometime in the near future. The truth is that the product might be eye-catching, attractive or just cool and your brain is telling you to buy it. You know that you don’t need it but you know that you’ll have instant gratification just by buying it.
#3 – Why pay now?
Lastly, you make it to the checkout stand and you’re telling yourself, “gosh, I really don’t need it but…” and then you remember, “It’s alright, it’s gonna go on my Costco credit card anyways”. Then you start to think of all the points you’re gonna rack up on your card and how you’re actually doing something good here. Oh and let’s not forget about the most important part, you don’t have to worry about paying it right away!
I don’t think that Costco purposely created an environment where consumers would fall prey to spending more money than they really want to, I think they just got lucky on this one. I still enjoy shopping at Costco…except on the weekends.