The Gruen Transfer Hypnotizes You Into Buying More

The Gruen Transfer Hypnotizes You Into Buying More

It's happened to everyone: you walk into a store, become dazzled by the colorful displays, and by the time you leave, you have bags full of unintended purchases. It's not just you, and it's definitely not an accident. That momentary confusion and hypnosis upon entering a store is called the Gruen Transfer, and stores carefully design everything from their entrance displays to their floor plans to their shopping routes to maximize its effects. Its name comes from Victor Gruen, the Austrian architect who conceived the first shopping mall in the 1950s as a way to give the suburbs a sense of community. Despite this fact, Gruen actually hated any tactic designed to manipulate consumers into buying more, and deeply regretted what the mall soon became. "I refuse to pay alimony to those bastard developments," Gruen said in 1978. "They destroyed our cities." Though Victor Gruen died in 1980, he might be comforted to know that 2006 saw the last conventional mall built in the US, and they've been overtaken by "lifestyle centers": open-air commerce hubs that get much closer to the sense of community that Gruen once imagined. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Architect Vitor Gruen invented the shopping mall as a city center for suburban sprawl. His utopian vision never quite came to fruition. (0:03)

  • 2

    The Gruen Transfer is the few minutes after you walk into a store where the stimulus confuses your brain and hypnotizes you into buying more. (1:08)

  • 3

    Economic downturns and the rise of the internet are causing malls to shut down and new developments to pop up that are closer to his original vision. (1:48)

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