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As you try to keep your spending in check during the rest of the holiday season, it helps to know precisely how marketers are trying to get you to open your wallets. Marketing Guru Martin Lindstrom pointed us to the three biggest gimmicks he’s noticed in 2012.


You’re looking at a product, considering ordering, and in the background there’s a ticking clock. If you don’t buy within the timeframe, the discount disappears. Flash sale websites like RueLaLa, Gilt and HauteLook all work on this principal. “We love this sense of urgency and we’re addicted to gaming,” says Lindstrom. “Shopping that seems like we’re part of a game gives us an inner thrill.”

Concierge Advice:

Magazines like In Style and US have succeeded by showing us what the rich and famous are doing and wearing – and how we can do those things and wear those things, too. Now websites are going a step further, by having celebs weigh in on the best things to buy. Rachel Zoe and Rachel Bilson pick their favorite pieces on PiperLime. Lara Spencer curates a selection for buyers on One Kings Lane. “There’s trust between you and [the celebrity],” Lindstrom says. “It will seduce you into buying more.”

Top 10 (Or 50 Or 100) Lists:

As shoppers, we’re insecure, Lindstrom says. We’re not sure that this is the right present for our friend or our sibling. These lists tell us how popular particular items right now. “It’s a way for consumers to feel more confident about spending their money,” he says. “That’s why we’re seeing more of them.” We’re also seeing offshoots. Toys R Us not only listed its Top 50 toys, it started taking reservations with a 20% deposit so that you could be sure you’d get that Furby (or whatever) before supplies ran out.

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Jean Chatzky, award-winning journalist and best-selling author, is the financial editor for NBC’s Today, a contributing editor for More Magazine, and a columnist for The New York Daily News. She blogs daily at