Apr 13, 2022
Question of the Day

Question of the Day: How is this advertisement encouraging you to buy?

How many persuasive tactics can you find? 



  • Words like "Exclusive," "VIP," and "personal boutique" make you feel special
  • Use of the word "You" personalizes it
  • Free shipping is something we have to come to expect from online retailers (don't be fooled, it's baked into the price)
  • Immediacy: "within 12 hours" 
  • Countdown timer (scarcity)


  • How often do you notice marketing "tricks" like this to get you to buy? 
  • Are there examples of these tricks that come to mind with retailing websites you visit? 
  • Do you think tactics like this are effective? 

Here are the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (CBS News):

In the last decade, manipulative website design has gone from being used by a handful of companies to near-ubiquity online and in consumer apps.

"Imagine if you ran a business and you could press a button to get your customers to spend 21% more. It's a no-brainer," Harry Brignull, who first coined the term "dark patterns" in 2010 and has since catalogued many of these marketing tricks online, said at the FTC workshop.

A decade ago, Brignull said, he thought that publicizing these techniques would be enough to shame companies into abandoning them. But that hasn't happened, he said — because for many companies, the rewards of these designs are too good to give up.


Learn about Dark Patterns and more in the NEW! NGPF Unit on Consumer Skills. Just released today! 


Here's a video about Dark Patterns which can keep the conversation going. Also appears in Lesson 12.2 Advertisements and Dark Patterns



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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