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Supermarkets can be so very sneaky. I know that their purpose is to make money but I have discovered a few ways in which they do this which may surprise you. Some of them certainly surprised me!
Let’s start at the very beginning of the supermarket shopping experience. You turn up at the store and have to make a decision; trolley or basket? You will usually have the choice of a couple of sizes of trolley, one of which is probably big enough to fit most of the supermarket’s stock into, or a small basket. The bottom line is that you will fill whichever choice you make with shopping. Apparently this is a product of evolution where if we see empty space we want to fill it with food and drink otherwise we will feel that we have not succeeded to provide. The trick here is to choose your trolley or basket with the type of shop that you are doing in mind. If you are just picking up some milk, do not go for a trolley or a basket, you will only end up filling it with things that are not milk and therefore spend more money.
Stepping into the store the first thing that you are likely to see is a flower display, closely followed by freshly baked goods. Seeing flowers releases endorphins which put people in a happy mood and make them spend more time in the store, once again probably resulting in them spending more money. The freshly baked goods are there to smell delicious and activate the salivary glands, this makes people hungry and once again, more likely to buy more. Supermarkets have also been known to bake at the busiest periods so that the enticing smells are in the air at the optimum time.
There will also be offers near the front of the store advertised through specific signs or displays. The store may use these style displays and signs throughout the store on non-offer products in the hope that you will automatically associate them with deals. Always check the prices before you pick these offers up as often there are cheaper alternatives elsewhere in the shop.
If you are just looking for basics, don’t expect them to be displayed together. Supermarkets will spread the basic items such as milk, bread and eggs around the store meaning that you will have to walk past everything else in order to reach them. This is in the hope that something that you weren’t intending on buying catches your eye. You will, however, find that desirable products which complement each other will be found together to encourage you to buy both, crisps and dips for example! Supermarkets will also quite often change the location of items within the store. This is also a method to force customers to walk around and, hopefully, see extra items that they want to buy on impulse.
When you get to the shelves you may notice another method that supermarkets use to try to encourage people to spend more money. The most expensive products will be in your eye line and easy to reach in the hope that you will just pick these up for convenience. This will also be true for the most expensive, brightly coloured sweets, although these will be on the lower shelves in the eye line of children! Brands will actually pay the supermarket to display their products on these optimum shelves. Take a look on the higher and lower shelves for cheaper alternatives for things like cereal and bread.
It is profitable for the supermarket to keep customers in the store for as long as possible so that they pick up as many items as possible. Tactics used include playing slow music to make people walk slower, having no clocks in the store so people cannot keep track of how long they have been in there for and also, so I have read, making floors out of material which is loud when walked on so people slow down to be less noisy!
Cakes, confectionary and other treats will be found at the end of the store. Why? After your long walk around the store picking up healthy food you deserve a treat. You are also more likely to be hungry by this point and therefore more likely to pick up something sweet. This means more money for the supermarket. This is the same reason for putting sweets and chewing gum at the tills; something for your journey home! Plus if you are standing at the till for a while with nothing to focus your attention on other than treats they can be difficult to resist.
So these are some of the ways in which supermarkets can entice you into spending more money; keep a look out for them next time you visit and I am sure you will spot at least a couple of them!
Just a couple of final tips on saving money during a food shop; take a list of things that you need and do not shop on an empty stomach. Sticking to a list is sure to help you avoid temptation, and therefore save money, plus shopping on an empty stomach is guaranteed to make you want to buy everything! I speak from experience...
By Sasha Davison
29th January 2014
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