Influencers from Around the World – Influence in Italian Gas Stations

In Italy our highways are called Autostrade and with a very capillary network they cover almost our entire “boot-shaped” peninsula, enabling us to travel from the North of the country down to Sicily in a fast and easy way. Along these roads are many gas stations owned by a company called Autogrill which builds restaurants and drugstores close to the gas stations in order to offer travelers the chance to have coffee, a meal or to buy something along the way. In these shops the principles of influence are used massively and they always attract my attention.

When people stop in one of these places, aside from their need for gas, they enter the building mainly for two reasons: either they need to go to the toilet or they want something to eat or drink. The shop entrance is situated very close to the bar desk and to the toilet entrance. Once these two needs are fulfilled (a cash register is located close to the bar so customers can easily pay) people only want to go back to their cars as fast as possible and to resume their journey. The most logical thing would therefore be to exit from the same door they used to enter the store. However, that would deprive the store owner of a great opportunity – to possibly sell something extra to somebody who is already a customer and who has probably no other explicit need at that point.For this reason, in order to gain the exit, you are forced to take a very long walk within the store, where you are exposed to every sort of product imaginable. This “detour” is created within the store by adding cardboard walls in strategic positions, creating one of those lines which are often seen at airports for passport controls or baggage check-in, filing many people into narrow spaces. On the two sides of the narrow way, customers are exposed to regional foods from every part of Italy, toys, books, fine bottles of wines, and many other consumer products. Most of these products, regardless from the season, are offered with a “50% discount off full price” or with the formula such as “buy one get the second one free.” Both of these of course trigger the reflex to the principle of scarcity.Now, the theory is this; if asked almost nobody among those who take this forced walk would admit to have the original intention to buy a piece of seasoned Parma Ham, a box of “tortellini” home made in Bologna or any other of the goods they are exposed to. However, the fact is, most people end up actually buying something and paying for it at a second cash register which happens to be strategically positioned before the real exit. We can learn two things:1) The products are exposed in a very appealing way. People can smell the fresh food, touch the fabric of goods (because of the narrow space they are almost invited to do so) or open the books to have a look inside. In essence, a need is created by mere exposure. The lesson for you and I is this – by presenting our product in an appealing way, we can create a need where there wasn’t one in the first place.2) The store owner knows if you present these products to a very large number of people
, statistically some will end up buying. Their products are presented, with no alternative, to EVERY single customer because, unless they walk with their eyes closed, they are forced to endure the seemingly endless array of products. We can apply the same principle by doing whatever is necessary to expose our product or service to the highest number of qualified to buyers.So now you are warned, when you come to Italy and need to refill your tank, be ready to make some unscheduled purchases in one of those stores or accept the challenge to resist the impulses driven by the persuasion principles!Marco

I’m sure Marco would enjoy hearing from you so feel free to leave a comment below.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
3 replies
  1. Orem Chiropractor
    Orem Chiropractor says:

    Thanks Marco. You hit the nail on the head in what I think is the essence of persuasion – creating a need when there wasn't one there before.

    One thing I think these stores have going for them is that people are go in expecting to spend money – at least for their gas. Not only that one is typically on a 'road trip' (vacation, weekend get away) when visiting these stores and therefore are more likely to spend. Again, great article.

  2. Marco Germani
    Marco Germani says:

    Hi Orem, thanks for your compliments and for your very interesting remark. By the principle of consistency, when we start doing something, it is a lot easy to keep it going and repeat the act over and over, I haven't thought about that !
    If you want to stay in touch, you are welcome to drop me a note at my email:


  3. orem chiropractic
    orem chiropractic says:

    Hey Marco…if you do a certain thing constantly then it will be easy of course. Because you keep on doing it, you are familiar with it everytime you handle it. And time will come that you will do it perfectly for practice makes perfect.


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