There’s a Reason You Spend More Than You Mean to At Target

published Aug 19, 2018
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You know that feeling you get when you walk inside of Target? You are just going on a Target run to get toilet paper and milk. Yet, 45 minutes later you’re at the check out with items from the $1 section, a new shower curtain, rug, and a pair of workout pants from Champion. You never mean to spend $300 at Target… it just happens! Well, the feeling you get when you’re shopping there has a name – it is the “Target Effect.”

It is a big joke that all Target lovers know you can’t go to Target without spending money you didn’t mean to. You can never buy just one thing! There is even an Urban Dictionary entry for this feeling. The “Target Effect” was explained by Dr. Kevin Chapman, a Kentucky-based psychologist, to Refinery29.

“You have good people in the marketing department at Target, and they have really good designers who have created such an ambient atmosphere for people. It’s really well-lit at Target, right? There’s a lot of color at Target. It’s pretty consistent throughout the store and generally that’s going to make people feel happier.”

Target has a long history of working with the best design minds in the business. The lighting, color scheme, and layout of the store is planned and makes this unplanned spending intentional on Target’s part.

Tom Meyvis, a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business told Refinery29:

“Stores have an idea about the path [shoppers take]. Walmart was once famous for doing things like putting like Band-Aids next to fishing hooks and things like that. Something you don’t naturally associate, but once you see them there, it makes sense. So when people come in for something in one category, you can cross-sell, you can sell them something that compliments in the next product category by making sure they’re right next to each other.”
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This makes so much sense. When you go in to grab some food for your cat or dog, then you just so happen to look across the aisle and see a collection of novelty mugs. And just around the corner from those mugs? Stemless wine glasses with pineapple designs on them.

Joe Perdew, Target’s Vice President of Store Design explained that the company knows their shoppers often like to grab some Starbucks before the shop. In order to give shoppers a chance to enjoy their Frappuccino or cold brew, Target has “added features like dynamic product vignettes throughout the store that help guests envision how things will fit into their life.”

Obviously, you love Target if you clicked on this article. If you like to save money, you’re going to want to use this $5 hack that will help you keep your entire life together.