We’ve all fallen victim to the Gruen Transfer. In fact, stores, casinos, and malls are built around this theory in order to make us fall victim to it. The payoff is more spending on our part.
What is the Gruen Transfer?
Have you ever gone to a store and just started wandering around? Plenty of us can run in and out for what we need, but it’s hard to not start wandering occasionally, just to see if there’s anything else we might need or want. And that’s the whole point.
Marketers and designers specifically build floor plans and displays that disorient us and lure us in. It’s all designed to give us a general desire to keep shopping and looking at things. If you just go to Target for fun, you’re WAY deep into the Gruen Transfer.
According to Gizmodo (cited below): “The Gruen transfer is the idea that the shopping experience itself was worth doing, and that paying money for something not on any specific agenda was the agenda.”
Of course, it’s all about getting you to consume more things.
Who was Victor Gruen?
The Gruen Transfer “mind trick” is named after architect Victor Gruen. But he’s probably rolling over in his grave since he hated the idea of disorienting consumers. His goal was to put items people needed in the same general location for convenience.
What his goal WASN’T was to confuse people and make them feel disoriented. In fact, Gizmodo’s article on the Gruen Effect (cited below) brings this to the fore, noting that “Gruen wasn’t a fan of the transfer at all. He railed against confusing, maddening stores that baffled consumers. In fact, his whole idea of a mall was based on efficiency on a very wide scale.”
“And, because there were only so many ways to design efficiently, many stores would be standardized. But Gruen wanted something more. Shopping places, he thought, should feature gardens, benches, cafes, and courtyards. It should be an experience. Then things like malls wouldn’t just be commercial zones, but would serve as public gathering places, where everyone, from every level of society, could mingle. He wanted to entice people, and get people to interact with each other, not confuse them.”
Making the transfer
Nevertheess, his name became associated with what the marketers and other designers did with his ideas. It became applicable within a store as well – such as a grocery store. Confusion reigns so you can see more things you might want to buy. The same is true of casinos. It’s easy for people to become disoriented, spend more time there, and part with more money.
Gruen just wanted public space for all. Now those places are ones where you can’t go to socialize anymore. You can only be there if you plan to shop.
As Gizmodo notes: “And so the guy who wanted to provide a public space, where everyone could get their shopping done so they could socialize, ended up inventing a system in which socialization equals shopping.” — WTF fun facts